Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sutro Baths 19th Century Lithograph

There's something so whimsical about turn-of-the-century art. I recently found this poster at Nashville's fabulous GasLamp antique mall for $22.  It shows San Francisco's grand public complex, Sutro Baths, which opened March 14, 1896.  
The print is based on a lithograph originally owned by George Whitney, owner of the Sutro Baths and the Cliff House. The baths included seven pools and a glazed roof of 100,000 glass panes which allowed the sunlight to filter through. Unheated seawater filled the largest tanks. What a fantastic treat for a person of that era to go swimming there, right? 

I love the swimmers with their handlebar mustaches, waving or exercising or whatever it is they're doing. They're having such a turn-of-the-century blast, aren't they?

All the bathers were required to use the establishment's suits, which explains the uniform appearance of the folks on these stairs; no J.Crew for these guys. Sutro Baths also hosted entertainment events, such as trapeze acts, contortionists, dwarf boxing matches, magicians and high-diving canines. Fabulous! I would have been in the front row. 


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