The San Francisco Local

Hidden stories: SF Fleishhacker pool, now a zoo parking lot

Local san francisco

Curbed SF

Alex Bevk, Curbed SF

We're pleased as punch to present the first entry in an ongoing series titled Hidden History, where Curbed Contributor Alex Bevk highlights a San Francisco location with a secret past. Maybe it's no longer there, maybe it's been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in SF history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.

Our first Hidden History spotlights a place well-known to older San Francisco residents, but perhaps unknown to the younger or newer members of the City - Fleishhacker Pool. Originally located where the current San Francisco Zoo parking lot sits, the public pool operated from 1925 - 1971.

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Built in 1924 by philanthropist and civic leader Herbert Fleishhacker, the pool opened in 1925, and at 1,000 feet long and 150 feet wide with a separate diving tower, it was the largest pool in the United States. The main pool could accommodate 10,000 swimmers, and was so large that lifeguards used wooden row boats to get across. Salt water was pumped into the pool at high tide through a pipeline from the ocean and then pumped out at low tide.

By 1971, after years of deferred maintenance, a large storm damaged in the intake pipe. Budget constraints prohibited its restoration, so it lay dormant for several years until it was filled with sand and gravel to serve as an access road for maintenance trucks. In summer of 2002 it became a parking lot for zoo visitors.

>>View more photos of the pool through the years.

All that remains is the abandoned bath house building (near the Zoo parking lot, seen along Great Highway), though the pool still sits intact under the asphalt parking lot.

The bath house has been condemned, occupied now by bands of homeless campers. Both SFist and 7x7 have featured photo essays on the current (super creepy) state of the bath house.

· Scenes of the City: Fleishhacker Pool House [7x7]

Photo captions: Fleishhacker Pool, crowds, June 26, 1929 (San Francisco Public Library/Curbed SF); Scenes from pool house today (Joseph Schell/7x7)

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