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Laugh with Sal 

Wednesday, Jun 25 2008
Gone are the days when the superrich could cement in a prime piece of S.F. coastline, drop a roof over it, and sell swimming tickets — but luckily for us, that day did exist, since it gave us the Sutro Baths ruins. After Adolph Sutro’s seawater-fed, multiple-pool glass palace burned to the ground in 1966, it started a new life as the beating heart of mystical, lost S.F., suitable for trips with acid and the parents alike. Sutro Baths was around the bend from another icon of unabashed coastline development, the 10-acre amusement park Playland-at-the-Beach. Filled with rides and a midway and the attendant pickpockets, it ended in a pier that stretched out into the Pacific. Although Playland eventually became condos and not a wasteland, you can still ride its carousel at Yerba Buena Gardens and peer into its Camera Obscura at the Cliff House. You can also still eat an It’s-It, which was invented by one of Playland’s owners, George Whitney, and sold there for nearly 40 years. Both of these huge seaside attractions make local history buffs weak in the knees, especially historian John Freeman, who experienced both places in his prime of life. He and retired ranger-historian (and Alcatraz whiz) John Martini team up for “Sutro Baths and Playland-at-the-Beach,” a lecture on the oddities of the attractions (word has it Sutro stank to holy hell).
Tue., July 8, 7:30 p.m., 2008

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Michael Leaverton


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