Located at the westernmost point of Lands End, the Sutro Baths were built by developer and mayor of the city Adolph Sutro. His concept of an aquarium along the coast expanded into a public bath house complete with six saltwater swimming tanks flushed by the daily tides, 517 dressing rooms, restaurants, an ice rink, and galleries. Construction began in 1887 and the baths opened to the public 1894.
The baths were enclosed by a 100,000 square foot glass structure spreading over three acres on the western headlands of the park. A classical temple marked the formal entrance. Sutro held a competition for the architectural design which C.J. Colley and Emil S. Lemme won.
Slides, trapezes, and diving boards dropped into the pools, each with a different water temperature. The building was balmy, which created an environment suitable for tropical plants and gave the baths the name “California’s Tropical Winter Garden.” Sutro also supported the development of a rail line from downtown that transported all types of visitors to enjoy the baths and park. The Sutro Baths burned and were completely destroyed in 1966, leaving just the ruins of the foundation remaining today.