January 18, 2013

Sutro Tower, a monstrosity above all others

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

Quite often there is a beautiful view of San Francisco from Mount Tamalpais.
This is haze and not fog, and thank GOD it isn't smog.

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

This second photo isn't new-- I snapped it on January 19, 2011. I always let you know when a photo isn't recent.

So anyway, the "thingamabobie" in the background is Sutro Tower, perced on Sutro Hill where the Sutro Mansion once stood. Sutro was a German engineer who made a fortune in the gold mining country with his expertise in blasting tunnels and pumping water. Subsequently he settled in San Francisco, becoming its 24th. mayor from 1895 to 1897.

His wealth was increased by large real estate investments in San Francisco, where he became an entrepreneur and public figure after returning from the Comstock in 1879. These land investments included Mount Sutro, Land's End (the area where Lincoln Park and the Cliff House are today), and Mount Davidson, which was called "Blue Mountain" at the time.

Sutro opened his own estate to the public and was heralded as a populist for various astute acts of public munificence, such as opening an aquarium and an elaborate and beautiful, glass-enclosed entertainment complex called Sutro Baths. Though the Baths were not opened until 1896, Sutro had been developing and marketing the project for years, attempting four separate times to insulate the site from waves using sea walls, the first three of which collapsed into the Pacific. In 1896, Adolph Sutro built a new Cliff House, a seven story Victorian Chateau, called by some "the Gingerbread Palace," below his estate on the bluffs of Sutro Heights. This was the same year work began on the famous Sutro Baths, which included six of the largest indoor swimming pools north of the Restaurant that included a museum, skating rink and other pleasure grounds. Great throngs of San Franciscans arrived on steam trains, bicycles, carts and horse wagons on Sunday excursions. In 1894, Sutro, in preparation for the opening of the Cliff House, bought a large part of the collection of Woodward's Gardens, a combination zoo, amusement park, aquarium, and art gallery which had closed in 1891.

The Baths were saltwater and springwater pools, heated to varying degrees, and surrounded by a concert hall and museums stocked with treasures that Sutro had collected in his travels and from Woodward's Gardens. The baths became very popular despite their remote location, across the open dunes to the west of the populated areas of the city. This popularity was partly due to the low entry fee for visiting the Baths and riding the excursion railroad he built to reach them. The railroad grade still exists as a walking trail along the Land's End cliffs, maintained by the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.

Sutro managed a great increase in the value of his outlying land investments as a direct result of the development burst that his vacationers' railroad spawned. He also increased the value of his lands by planting his property at Mount Sutro with saplings of fast-growing eucalyptus. This occurred at the same time as city Supervisors granted tax-free status to "forested" lands within city limits. Small fragments of the forest still exist.   source: Wikipedia

click photo for full-size image
photo by Donald Kinney

This third photo isn't new either--I snapped it on November 1, 2012.

Now, this IS fog--our beloved fog. San Franciscans call it their natural air conditioning. Much thicker and dense than the haze in the first photo.

But there it is again, that pointy "thingamabobie" jutting 977' into clear sky. Hey, I think it is a monstrosity. A relic of the TV generation, blasting out so much radio-frequency (RF) radiation that it is a wonder that everyone in the vicinity isn't growing malignant tumors. It is UGLY. It is hubris. I don't like it.

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1 comment:

Nancy Ewart said...

I remember when it was first built and there were various jokes about how it was going to mate with the Transamerica pyramid. Or the pyramid with it. I'm glad that never happened; can you image the offspring?

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