Fleishacker Pool

greenspun.com : LUSENET : San Francisco History : One Thread

Was Fleishacker pool heated? When was it built, and how long did it stay in operation? Why did it cease to operate?

-- Kathleen Rodegeb (nanakat@pacbell.net), December 01, 1999


Hi Kathleen,

Fleishacker Pool was one of those marvelous "white elephants" in San Francisco history. Constructed in the early 1920s, it was reportedly the largest outdoor heated swimming pool in the world. Unfortunately, it was only a couple of hundred feet from the Pacific Ocean and suffered from miserable weather. Fleishacker never enjoyed great popularity except during the warmest of hot spells, and even then it was just as easy to cross the Great Highway and swim in the ocean and save the admission cost in the bargain. The pool's massive size was never justified and it never paid for itself. The city closed it in the 1970s due to changing recreation patterns, the high costs of maintenance and the pool's decaying infrastructure.

I used to swim in Fleishacker's during the 1960s as a competitor in SF high school swim meets during the 1960s. My teammates and I speculated as to what degree the pool was actually heated. Our guess was that there was a midget in a tunnel under the pool holding a candle.

While shivering on the bleachers, we used to swap "Fleishacker lore" such as the one about the shark that had supposedly been sucked in through the intake pipe and was loose somewhere in the pool, the stove discovered in the deep end when the pool was drained for maintenance, and the disembodied floating hand reportedly found by a gardener. The pool's incredible size (1/8 of a mile long) and its impenetrably murky water only increased the eerie ambience.

The pool sat empty and drained for many years and was finally filled in during the early 1980s with sand excavated during construction of the Westside Sewage Transport Project. My understanding is that the vast majority of Fleishacker pool is still intact beneath tons of sand fill. Maybe future generations of San Franciscans will discover its remains and excavate it as a wonder of the long-vanished 20th Century culture.


-- John Martini (martini@slip.net), December 02, 1999.

The pool was so big that lifeguards patrolled it in rowboats.

-- Bill Roddy (bill@americahurrah.com), May 06, 2000.

Click this for an impressive image of the size of this monster: http://civiccenter.ci.sf.ca.us/recpark/Image.nsf/ d78d6ad3afdc6d6c882564c1007582db/ 90e87fb2b7cf9f1b882564c00009dfbb?OpenDocument

and this in the early 1900's: http://civiccenter.ci.sf.ca.us/recpark/Image.nsf/ d78d6ad3afdc6d6c882564c1007582db/ dcdd59f3b339ede2882564c00009dfb2?OpenDocument

and this for the plan: http://civiccenter.ci.sf.ca.us/recpark/Image.nsf/ d78d6ad3afdc6d6c882564c1007582db/ a3bdf0bfe0508c42882564c00009dfb1?OpenDocument

Enjoy this triple-decker...

-- Wolfgang Schubert (chouby@aol.com), November 20, 2000.

Perhaps these links will help: one, another, and another.

-- Allan J. Heim (allanh@well.com), September 18, 2001.

To answer your questions: 1-Fleishaker Pool was heated by the sun; It was first opened to the pubilc May 1925; 3- operation stopped due to financial considerations, the main fill line from the ocean broke and estimates at the time were over $250,000 for repairs (so I've been told). I first worked as a part time lifeguard at Fleishaker Pool in August 1960 ... by the time I departed city lifeguard service in 1970 I had been a full time lifeguard for five years and had worked ofter at this pool.

Fleishader Pool was 1,000 feet long and 100 feet wide at each end with a center 150 foot section (divided into three equal sections. It ran from 18 inches at the shallow end steps to 14 feet at the deep end. I can clearly remember dayw with 5,000 attendance followed the next day by 2 people. We had seven (plus or minus) guards on duty and generally worked one hour in the elevated chair and one hour walking the deck. We had two row boats, because of the pool surface area. I could go on for hours ... I now work as a pool desinger.

-- William Whiteley (poolquestions@attbi.com), May 07, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ