San Francisco, CA

One of the World's Largest Outdoor Swimming Pools Was in San Francisco and Now is Destroyed

Diana Rus
Fleishhacker Pool Postcard (1932)Photo byFleishhacker Pool/ Wikipedia

Fleishhacker Pool was a public saltwater swimming pool complex located near the San Francisco Zoo on Sloat Boulevard and the Great Highway in the southwest part of San Francisco, California, United States.

When it was finished in 1925, it was one of the largest outdoor swimming pools in the world.

The pools were shut down in 1971 after more than 40 years of operation. In 2000, the pools' remainings were destroyed.

Fleishhacker Pool

Herbert Fleishhacker, a philanthropist and civic leader, built the Fleishhacker Pool and Fleishhacker Playfield complex in 1924. It was inaugurated on April 22, 1925.

At the time of its opening, the pool had dimensions of 1,000 by 150 feet and a capacity of 6,500,000 US gallons of saltwater, which could hold up to 10,000 bathers. It was also one of the largest heated outdoor pools in the world.

It featured a diving tower with two levels and a diving pool that was 50 feet square and 14 feet deep.

The pool was so big that the lifeguards needed rowboats to patrol it, and the military utilized it for training exercises.
Fleishhacker Pool & bath house (1979)Photo byFleishhacker Pool/ Wikipedia

At high tide, a system of pumps and piping brought water in from the Pacific Ocean, which was 650 feet away, while also filtering and heating it. 

In theory, the pool's heater could raise 2,800 US gal of seawater to a temperature of 75 degrees Fahrenheit every minute, maintaining a constant pool temperature of 72 degrees for AAU swim meets. However, the temperature typically fluctuated between 65 and 75 degrees, which was too cold for most swimmers.

The Delia Fleishhacker Memorial Building, also known as the Mother's Building, was constructed close to the kids' wading pool and operated as a lounge for mothers and young kids. By 1960, the children's zoo had taken the place of the wading pool, which had been removed in 1940.
Remains of Fleishhacker Pool Bath HousePhoto byFleishhacker Pool/ Wikipedia

Fleishhacker Pool was closed by the end of 1971

The pool started to deteriorate as a result of underfunding and poor maintenance when a storm in January 1971 broke its drainage system.

Because of low usage and excessive repair expenses, the pool was modified to use fresh water, which led to poor water quality.

Fleishhacker Pool was closed by the end of 1971.

The San Francisco Zoological Society received ownership of the pool house in 1999. The swimming pool was filled with rocks and gravel, and the area was used as the zoo's parking lot.

The pool house was destroyed by fire on December 1, 2012, after spending many years abandoned and being inhabited by homeless people and animals.

The remaining ruins were destroyed, but a portion of the pool house with three elaborate entrances still stands.

The Mother's Building, currently housed within the San Francisco Zoo and Gardens, is the sole structure from the Fleishhacker Pool complex that is still standing.

(Source: Fleishhacker Pool/ Wikipedia)

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