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Customer Review

2 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars lost in san francisco, December 31, 2000
This review is from: The Beach: The History of Paradise on Earth (Hardcover)
Why, oh, why do swimmers get "lost" writing about San Francisco? Answer: ? Lencek and Bosker have 11 1/2 pages of bibliography, (including "Haunts of the Black Masseur:The Swimmer as Hero" by Charles Sprawson,published in 1992.) While Sprawson's book focuses on the swimmer through history, and thus touches on PLACES where the swimmers swim, Lencek and Bosker (hererafter "LB") focus on the beaches through history and thus touch on the same beaches and places that Sprawson visits,or in some cases writes about without having visited (his first edition was published in Great Britain)and while Jack London gets ample admiration, the book has a world-wide approach to swimming through the ages---Byronic,English,German,Japanese,American periods are among those explored via word and art.) They may have walked through San Francisco together to reach the Sutro Baths(or never seen them), but they all got lost before placing Fleishhacker Swim Pool on the wrong side of San Francisco Bay. Sprawson:"The great Sutro Baths of San Francisco were founded in 1896 by an engineer who had made his fortune from devising a tunnel to drain the flooded shafts of the silver mines in Nevada.Sutro then turned his aquatic genius to designing the most remarkable pool ever built." LB:"An engineer who had grown wealthy by devising a tunnel for draining the flooded shafts of Nevada silver mines gave San Francisco the equivalent of Mediterranean bathing in oceanside swimming pools.In 1896 he opened Sutro Baths, a remarkable complex situated high above the Pacific. Sprawson:The railway company ran two lines directly to its entrance, from where stairs descended to what was the largest glass-roofed building in existence,situated high above the Pacific,full of palm trees that stretched up to its ceiling, stuffed anacondas, a Tropic beach, restaurants, and in the main amphitheatre, seven separate swimming pools overlooking the ocean. LB:In the main amphitheater, seven swimming pools, holding two million gallons of seawater and ranging in temperature from icy to warm, overlooked the ocean. Sprawson:Their temperature varied from ice-cold to warm. They held two million gallons of sea water, and could accommodate ten thousand bathers at a time,who could vary their swimming with swinging from the rings and trapezes, or diving off the nine springboards and several high platforms. LB:At any one time, ten thousand bathers swam, swung from the rings and trapezes, and dived from the springboards and platforms. BUT SPRAWSON AND LB somehow misplace the Fleishhaker swimming pool, which they call "the Fleishhaker." The pool,no longer in existence, was south of Sutro Baths, along the Pacific, yet Sprawson (writing from Britain, perhaps) writes: "On the other side of the Bay was the largest open-air pool in the world,the Fleishhaker, that resembled a lake with an Italian Renmaissance changing room stretching almost its entire length."Well, it was a thousand feet long and lifeguards had a rowboat or two among their patrol tools, but despite its size, it resembled a large swimming pool, not a lake. LB:"Across San Francisco Bay (NO,NO,NO) was the Fleishhacker,another gargantuan swimming facility. Its Italian Renaissance changing rooms were the height of elegance (NO, not by the 50's or 60's, anyhow). Sprawson:But the water was never warm, and divers were put off by the perpetual mist that hovered over its surface..." LB:"The size was something of a liability,however:the temperature of the water was always on the cold side, and a constant fog hovered over the swimmers." Both neglected to note that the water was "on the cold side" because it was pumped directly from the Pacific Ocean less than a quarter mile away. AND IT WASN'T 'ACROSS THE BAY.' It was next to the ocean, and on the same "side of the bay" as Sutros. That said, hey, if you like the beach, add it to your collection. And if you like the beach, you probably like the water, too, and in that case, bette add Sprawson's book to your collection too. His cover, swimmer "Houlgate" sitting on the wet sand, 1919 by Jacques_henri Lartigue, is enough reason to get the a wonderful selection of classic and modern artwork depicting the world of the swimmer. No maps of "the Fleishhaker."
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 17, 2010 11:22:42 PM PDT
KT says:
No helpful. An impenetrable wall of text is insulting to the reader.
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