Well, you surely heard of this place and probably have even seen one or another movie about this small isle.
We talk about the former prison isle and nowadays tourist attraction (and nature reservoir as well) – Alcatraz.
In total we planned three days for our stay in San Francisco, so therefor we would have enough time like half a day to visit this attraction.
The ticketprices to visit Alcatraz might be not that cheap, a day tour costs 45$, a night tour is around 50$.
Theoratically you have the whole day for discovering the Isle, only important thing is that you are back on the last ship in the evening 😉
If you are interested – here is the official ticket selling – plan your visit in time! http://www.alcatrazislandtickets.com
The history of Alcatraz
The Isle has a pretty exciting history, in which the time of being a prison is actually just a part.
Everything began in 1854, the year in which the first lighthouse on the US Westcoast was built, guess where?
But even directly after the Isle was used as a fort for military purposes.
In 1933 Alcatraz did get a new function as a penitentiary institution and finally one year later it became a federal prison. Because of its isolated location, the ice cold flow and the extremely high secure standards, only the real tough guys have been imprisoned in “The Rock”, how Alcatraz was called from now on.
One of the most famous guys that ever went to visit Alcatraz was legendary Al Capone, but also many others, that were dealt as “problematic” in other prisons within the country, finally found their new home here.
Quite popular is also the movie “Escape from Alcatraz”, in which Clint Eastwood is playing brilliantly the prisoner Frank Morris, who escaped in the year 1962 spectacular from Alcatraz together with 2 of his inmates.
It is completely a mystery till now, if the escape succeeded or not. His corpse has never been found, neither any signs that proofed his survival.
The movie is truly great and thrilling, but reality in that case even more exciting!
The fact, that such escape was even possible is based on a chain of “unfortunate circumstances”.
We have here on the one hand the force of saving costs.
You want an example? Salt water has been used for flushing the toilets, which led over the years to a heavy corrosion of the pipes and the concrete started to decompose.
For some lattice bars they were using flat iron instead of steel, which is way more easier to be treated.
But still the upkeeps were drastically high!
In total there has been more than 40 attempted escapes, but it was this final successful try of Frank Morris that brought the then justice minister Robert F. Kennedy to the decision to close the prison one year later on 21 march 1963, so that no one shall ever visit Alcatraz as a prisoner.
Alcatraz and the Indians
Barely one and a half years later Alcatraz was occupied by around 40 Sioux Indians, which wanted to contend successfully for their rights to use formerly federal territory.
The protests went on as years went by until they finally reached their peak in the year of 1969.
Around 80 Indians were offering to buy Alcatraz for some Glass pearls, accompanied with big media and press.
So once more the government made the decision to vacate Alcatraz in the year 1971. Nevertheless the Indians had many popular supporters… have you ever heard of Creedence Clearwater Revival for example?
Visit Alcatraz – the Tourist attraction
Nowadays everyone can visit Alcatraz, most of the areas are reachable and touristical available.
Parts of “The Rock” are still closed, which is mainly base don the facts, that ruins are too much damaged and ramshackled and also that parts of the isle are used as a bird breeding area.
In any way you still have enough to see, once you visit Alcatraz. Really cool is, that if you want you can be guided via an Audiotour with the original documentation from real imprisoners of Alcatraz. This truly gives some chills!
One very interesting fact personally for me was that in real everything seemed somehwo way smaller than in the movie. The cells, the whole area, somehow I had a completely different expectation about this.
But also this is was quite oppressive when you start to think about the fact, that people lived here without eve the smallest chance to leave this place ever again, confined on these few squaremetres, only served with the minimum amount of needed things.
On the other hand they were there for a certain reason…
To visit Alcatraz is from our perspective definitely a bucket list thingie, not only because of the truly amazing view to the skyline of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.
We had a fantastic day with fantastic weather, spending a splendid morning in San Francisco at Pier 39 and having a good time in the afternoon with a mix of education and adventure trip on Alcatraz and back on mainland, the (formerly) president Obama just appeared with his incredible car parade. Even drones in the sky, helicopters… the whole program.
Lucky you, that I had the phone with me so you get an impression of this scenery here:
With completely clean and uncriminal greetings…
Yours, Hendrik aka Anton Alcatraz
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Thank you sincerely, Birdie & Hendrik.