Alcatraz Island reopened this week, and I was lucky enough to be invited by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy for a tour. It is a very fascinating place that has long history: fort, prison, lighthouse, and museum. It was also occupied by Indians from 1969 to 1971 via this proclamation. If you’re visiting San Francisco, be sure to visit Alcatraz Island. It’s a good idea to get tickets in advance because the tours sell out.
Interesting tidbit: Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz” didn’t have keep birds at Alcatraz. This is quite different from how he is depicted in the movie by the same name.
We have a prison of a similar vintage here in Hong Kong that is sometimes used as an art gallery.
More here: http://dilloncommunications.com/blog/?p=242 and here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_Prison
Looks like fun, Guy! Thanks for sharing your trip with us. When I’m in the area again (which should be soon) I’ll make sure to buy tickets ahead of time. Wishing you well from Atlanta, Sonsh.
That’s amazing. Next stop: Attica.
How about it?
Cool, but why such tiny pictures?
I had the privilege (?!) of staying the night in a cell on Alcatraz a few years ago. Interesting place.
I am long time reader but this is a shameless plug: those pictures are so small, you should be using our site Tabblo— we specialize in exactly what you just did.
HP bought us last month so this is definitely not a plea to get users— I just thought that that tour would have looked a lot better if I could have gotten close on some pictures the way you can in a tabblo.
Keep up the blogging!
Hi Guy, Alcatraz is a must-see when visiting San Francisco, an outstanding city and excellent vacation destination.
Another must-see, not too far outside the city: Muir Woods. Parking is VERY limited. If you can get there some way besides a time-limit tour bus, definitely do that, because you will want to hike and linger for a long time among those incredible redwoods.
I took that tour a few years ago. They gave you a tape player with which you walked the grounds listening to the ‘tour.’ Everyone, it seemed, was walking around with those tape players. The weird thing was taking the headphones off. Absolute silence. And yet, the place had a lot of tourists. Everyone was quietly listening to the tour.
I echo Gregg’s comments – the audio tour is fantastic. Some more notes about the audio – some of the narration is provided by prior guards and prior inmates of Alcatraz. Plus there are sound effects timed to give you a good sense of the noise and atmosphere of the prison. Very well done.
Definitely do get tickets in advance. A few years ago there were a lot of disappointed people waiting in line when I arrived to pick up my advance tickets.
Great post about one of my new favorite places. I was just there four weeks ago (did it close since then and officially reopen?) and took the audio tour as well and immensely enjoyed it. As others mentioned, the audio tour is well done with sounds of the prison and the commentary is interesting.
I did not get to see the hosptial or operating room though – I wonder if they had that area closed while I was there?
Does your release prove that you have good lawyers?
No, the years I worked at Apple counted against my sentence, so I got out quickly. :-)
At my visit at ALCATRAZ I had the chance to see how to open the prison cell. Especially the sound is realy frightening.
Just curious as to what program you did use for the photo layout…? Picture size did not bother me, but I guess they could be larger. Thanks in advance.
We went on honeymoon to Alcatraz. My wife is still there ;-)
This look like a neat place to start a tech company :-)
Minimal distraction and you can lock down the cubicles so your software engineers can’t escape from a 20 hours a day coding session
Best Regards from France!
Alcatraz huh? Looks as interesting as it did in Clint Eastwood’s “Escape from Alcatraz” movie. Looks like a neat place, maybe I will get to check it out later this summer. Does it have an ice rink? Ooh I can see it now, “The Alcatraz Assasins” hockey team.
I took the USPS audio tour several years ago; some of the narrators were former guards and inmates. One fact that astonished me: no one was ever sentenced to Alcatraz. It was a punishment facility — if you messed up in some other federal prison, you got sent to Alcatraz.
I bought a reproduction of a 1950s era set of rules for inmates (the original was produced via mimeograph), complete with a drawing to show exactly how you had to store the stuff in your cell. (It’s the pride of my collection of job aids.) You were entitled to food, clothing, shelter, and medical care — everything else (like being allowed to have books) was a privilege and could be revoked.
I’m obsessed with prisons… is that scary? I forced my boyfriend to go to Alcatraz with me, but I think ultimately we were equally impressed with the experience.
Best part of the Audio Tour was Cell Block D – solitary. The Hole. Absolutely frightening. I could barely go inside one of those cells, and the audio tour was a perfect compliment to the eeriness of it all.
A movie you might like to see is “So I Married an Axe Murderer“, Mike Myers cult classic.
Phil Hartman plays a tough Alcatraz tour guide called Vicky.