I have been to San Francisco 6 or 7 times and never had or took the time to visit Alcatraz. This trip I had a small window on Monday. So, I walked down to Pier 33 with fingers crossed hoping I would be able to get on a boat from a stand by line in case somebody didn’t show up. They were sold out and they quit using the stand by line. The lady stated they sell out 2 to 3 weeks in advance but that they still have a few tickets for Wednesday afternoon. What the heck, bought a ticket for the Wednesday 3:50 boat.They start lining people up 30 minutes before they let you board the boats. They check your ticket three different times before you finally get to board. One of the other guys I was traveling with did the tour on Sunday and he was telling me all about the plant life and the succulents that grow on Alcatraz. I always thought San Fran is cold and rainy but there were cactus and succulents everywhere. Finally time to board and the tours were running three boats that day. I would guess each boat took 300 people at $38.50 a head every 30 minutes. That is a lot of money. Alcatraz is part of the Golden Gate Bridge National Park.It was a little foggy but could still see the Golden Gate Bridge on the ride out. Alcatraz Island started as a lighthouse for the San Francisco Bay. Then a military outpost, then the famous prison, now a historical national park. One of the guard towers One of the park rangers giving the do’s and don’ts and where to get your audio tour headsets.One of the original cannons from the military fort. Part of the old mission style fort. The buildings are showing their age from the weather and salt air. It looks like they had started to repaint the cell block and stopped. The walk up the hill was not bad, but is comprised of a set of switch back ramps. There is a tram for the handicapped and people who could not make the trek. The tour starts in the cell block building. The tour starts where the new prisoners would begin, in the showers and then to processing to get their clothes and bedding. The tour is narrated by four previous correctional officers and inmates. The incoming inmates were then paraded nude down “Broadway.” The cells were super small. 7 foot by 9 foot by 7foot. If inmates were on good behavior they got time in the yard. Some of the more famous inmates, include Al Capone and the Bird Man. Cell block D was for the worst of the worse and also contained the six cells where all light could be shutout. “The Hole” The prison library, Guns and Keys were never allowed in the cell block. They were kept on either end of the block called the Gun Gallery. In 1946 inmates distracted a guard and over powered him, and one inmate climbed the gun gallery to the top and used a homemade bar spreader made in the local machine shop to spread the bars, and over took the guard with keys and a gun. They held the prison for 3 days. The photo below in from the explosion of hand grenades that were dropped by the army. Several inmates and 3 guards died during these 3 days. C/D street There were only 4 visitation booths. Guard uniform, the inmates called them red ties. Great view of San Francisco from the warden house end of the island. The Golden Gate Bridge from the other end of the island.The lighthouse The Administration Building What is left of the Warden’s house. Only 4 different men served as warden at Alcatraz.I didn’t take any DSLR equipment on this trip . Everything was shot and documented with my new iPhone XS Max. I am impressed with the portrait settings as used in this selfie.The escape. Two adjoining cells used spoons from the kitchen to tunnel through the concrete.They have opened up a panel in the wall to show the space in between the cells where the inmates climbed the pipes to get out.Not all tours every day do the “Sounds of the Slammer”. I was lucky enough to get to be there during this demo.
The prison closed in 1963 due to rising cost. It was costing more than $500 a day to house 1 inmate.
Several Indian tribes took Alcatraz in 1969 and held it for 19 months to protest how the Indians were treated and and how may treaties had been broken. You can read more here at The Occupation of Alcatraz.
So my last post before this was almost 1 year ago. I came close to not renewing my blog this year. I made a promise to myself I would try to get back to doing more photography and posting more. So time will tell.
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Life is good and I am blessed.