A Rocking (and Philanthropic) Celebration of Adolph Sutro

Celebration Sutro Poster                          A Celebration of Sutro. August 8, 2013. San Francisco.

You would be hard pressed to find a San Franciscan, native or newcomer, who has not heard the name “Sutro.” As in:

  • Sutro Tower.”  Maligned by many but recognized as a Bay Area icon, Sutro Tower prominently appears in local art, television shows, and movies. Like it or not, it is one of the architectural symbols of the City.
  • Sutro Baths.”  Built in 1894 to provide a healthy and inexpensive swimming facility, the Sutro Baths were destroyed by a fire in 1966. Exploring the concrete ruins is a favorite pastime of San Franciscans.
  • Mount Sutro.”  The magical dense eucalyptus forest of Mount Sutro shrouded under the cover of fog and beloved by hikers, dogs, bicyclists, banana slugs, and the great horned owl.
  • Sutro Library.”  The most extensive genealogy collection west of Salt Lake City is at the Sutro Library.

Are you like me and know little about the man behind this impressive legacy? Curious? Adolph Sutro was classic San Francisco. A Prussian immigrant, Sutro came to California at the tender age of twenty with the clothes on his back, a spirit of adventure, and a keen business sense. Not all of Sutro’s business ventures were successful but enough were to make him a very wealthy man.

Sutro made a fortune building a tunnel through the Comstock Lode silver mines. Reminiscent of today’s business ventures, shortly after completion Sutro quietly sold all his stock in the tunnel for a vast sum. The tunnel became obsolete within 18 months of the sale. However, our man Sutro remained wealthy from the venture. Sounds questionable but the tunnel related dealings established his anti-big business cred since in the process he triumphed over the Bank of California, the most powerful institution in the West. Interestingly Sutro may have been the first employer to offer stock options to his employees – he raised money for the tunnel directly from the workers in exchange for stock.

Back in the day (1870s), Sutro was the city’s largest landowner. At one point he owned one-twelfth of San Francisco. An impressive landholding by any standard, it makes the Academy of Art University look like land-owning pipsqueaks.

Despite his vast wealth Sutro was politically progressive, a bona fide champion of the working class, and remarkably philanthropic.  In 1894 he successfully ran for mayor of San Francisco campaigning against big business, supporting women’s suffrage and opposing the powerful Southern Pacific Railroad. He was the people’s mayor.

Intrigued? Wish Sutro could resurrect and find a leadership role in today’s political scene? Me too. But barring the impossible we will have to be satisfied with celebrating his legacy and learning from it.

Which leads to today’s deal – “A Celebration of Sutro” a tribute to a man who helped shaped San Francisco.

THE DEAL:

Join Sutro’s Last Wish at the historic Great American Music Hall for a fantastic celebration of the life and legacy of Adolph Sutro. The party features:

  • An impressive musical line up featuring: Tracorum with Jazz Mafia Horns; The Harpoons; and The Spotted Botanists;
  • Performers of all types including: circus folk, dancers, actors, pirates, and the fabulous comedy duo – the Blubba Brothers;
  • A  keynote presentation from Jim Schein of Schein and Schein Maps and Prints;
  • Historical exhibits; and
  • The awarding of the 1st ever Spirit of Sutro Award to the person most exemplifying the wondrous spirit of Adolph Sutro. Maybe the winner will run for office.

Come in costume – either as a traveler from San Francisco’s colorful past or in a celebratory fashion of your own creation. I bet there will be at least one Emperor Norton and hope there will be at least one Mayor Lee.

Bonus: Tracorum, San Francisco’s original Rock’n’Soul/Rhythm’n’Blues band is offering readers a download their latest album for FREE ($10 value). Check it out — they are the real deal.

LOGISTICS:

Great American Music Hall
859 O’Farrell Street
San Francisco

Thursday, Aug 8, 2013. Non-stop fun starting @ 7p.m.

Tickets:

$17.00 (in advance) $22.00 (at the door) General Admission
$41.95 Admission & Dinner

MY TAKE:

Be sure to put today’s deal on your to-do list.

A Celebration of Sutro” is as ambitious, entertaining, philanthropic, and all-encompassing as the man himself. How fitting.

Bonus: Event proceeds will go to support The Blue Bear School of Music and The Rex Foundation. FYI: The Blue Bear School of Music provides music education to aspiring musicians of all ages and skill levels. The Rex Foundation (established by the Grateful Dead) promotes the arts and provides support and social services for adults and children in our community.

Plus kids ages 6 and up can attend. How cool is that?

This promises to be a fun evening you will not want to miss.

Tip: Want to learn more about Adolph Sutro?  Check out: Adolph Sutro: A Brief Story of a Brilliant Life by Eugenia Kellogg Holmes or Adolph Sutro; A Biography. by Robert E. Stewart, Jr. and Mary Frances Stewart.

Fun Sutro Fact: Wondering about those signature mutton-chops? The word on the street is they were grown to camouflage a scar young Sutro got courtesy of a San Francisco street thug who slashed his cheek.

Adolph Sutro

h/t to Stefan for telling me about today’s deal.

If you know of a great deal shoot me an email (Shari@dealtrackerSF.com) or leave a comment here. Thanks and happy deal tracking.

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