Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A is for Alcatraz on ABC Wednesday

Alcatraz Island as seen from a ferry boat traveling towards the former military fortress, prison, and temporary Indian homeland.


Once disembark the ferry boat, tourists will see this sign.


Tourists are free to roam around the former cell blocks while listening to a self-paced audio tour.


This is the view the prisoners would see from the small opening on the now rusted door. During New Year's Eve, prisoners could hear revelers sailing by on their boats laughing and drinking.


There were 6 full isolation cells called "The Hole" in the whole prison. Notice the double doors. Severely disruptive prisoners were confined here 24 hours a day and sometimes in complete darkness and restricted diets.


This is what it looks like inside "The Hole".


I lived in San Francisco all my life and this was my first trip to Alcatraz. The only way to access the island was by private ferry boats which are usually packed rain or shine.

I spent 4 hours there and wished I had additional time to see everything at a more leisure pace. The self-paced tour was very impressive where you could listen to prisoners' and guards' point of view while living on "The Rock", a nickname for Alcatraz. You might have seen the movie with the same name starring Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage.

I didn't realize the guards and their families lived on the eastern side of the island. Kids took a ferry to the mainland to go to school while the mothers tended to their gardens. Most felt so safe living on the island that they didn't even lock their doors at night!

The history of this island is so fascinating that I could not do it justice. There are numerous books written about this place. Here is a link to a great summary.

Stay tuned for more photos of my tour.

- AV

35 comments:

Ackworth Born said...

I love that bit about the families feeling safe there.

BT Cassidy said...

Looks like a great place to holiday- It'd be sooo peaceful.

Sandy Carlson said...

My mother was amazed by this place when she and dad went there. To earn a room in this joint would be horrible. To think here's a prison in Boston that has been converted to a luxury spa/hotel! Go figure.

Kate Isis said...

Its strange how when we live so close to a recognised landmark, historical point that it takes us so long to get around to going to see it.
The tourist thing is usually reserved for when your out of town. This is definately on my must see list.

dot said...

Great pictures! I'd love to see this in person. I don't know what I was doing during the Indian takeover but I didn't hear about it until years later. Interesting history and some great movies have been made about Alcatraz.

RuneE said...

I once visited SF for a week. The one thing we didn't get to see up close was Alcatraz. Thank you for remedying that - now I feel I have been there.

Excellent A.

mrsnesbitt said...

Truly amazing! Especially the families living there with the workers. A true community.

make sure you sign up with Mr Linky over on my blog...this shows you are participating.
Dx

kml said...

I didn't realize that they were open for tours. Bet there are a lot of ghosts there!

Ida said...

Great post for the A! :)
A famous and well known place all over the world, i believe.
I like your heading also. :)

Paulie said...

Great, interesting post. Absolutely amazing history.

NYCindividual said...

I've always wanted to go there!

ArneA said...

Once again they are showing the movie "The Rock" on TV tonight here in Norway.
Are you reading international TV programs

DarylE said...

I am headed to SF this April .. and we plan'd to see Alcatraz tho now we can just look at your pix instead!

Dragonstar said...

Yes, I saw the film. I had no idea that families lived there - and felt safe!

VP said...

I remember my trip to Alcatraz very well. The audio tour gave you a real sense of the place - all those clanging doors and rattling of keys. Thanks for taking me there again.

AVCR8TEUR said...

Ackworth, that was funny to me as well since they were living so close to some of the most dangerous criminals.

BT Cassidy, If you are ever in SF, go for a visit, but the tickets sell out very quickly so you should book in advance.

Sandy, haha, Alcatraz is still a park and tourist spot. Who knows, maybe one day, they will build a hotel here since this place is so popular.

Kate Isis, nice to see you back. Sometimes it's fun to play tourist in your own hometown. Unfortunately, some of my beloved childhood places have already been torned down.

Dot, definitely not a placed to be missed if you are ever in SF. I vaguely remember the Indian tribe takeover in the 70's. As you can tell from one of the photos, there still a little remanence of that time on the island.

AVCR8TEUR said...

Thanks Runee, there will be more Alcatraz photos to come in future postings, but it's nothing like being there.

MrsNesbitt, I think there were 200 civilians living on the island. Unfortunately, all those apartments have all crumbled. Thanks for the reminder of Mr. Linky.

KML, it is now part of the U.S. National Park. It is open almost all year round for visitors. There is also a night tour. I don't want to be there at night in case there are any ghosts. :D

Ida, You're right, I think lots of tourists from all over the world make it to SF and Alcatraz being one of their stops.

Paulie, Definitely lots of history. I can't believe how many books have been written about the place. On the day I was there, an author was signing copies of his new Alcatraz book.

AVCR8TEUR said...

NYCIndividual, you should go since you live close by, but book your tickets ahead of time. I thought booking on a cold and overcast day would deter lots of people from going, but I was wrong.

AVCR8TEUR said...

Arnea, the funny thing is I saw "The Rock" on tv the same night I got home and recognized some of the structures in the movie.

Daryle, you should visit the actual site as pictures don't do it justice. Nothing like actually being there and listening to the audio tour.

Dragonstar, I didn't know about the families either. They actually planted lots of flowers there and many wildflowers still grow there which attracts the wildlife.

VP, you are quite welcome. So you know how awesome the tour is. Some actually sent chills down my spine thinking I was standing at the very spot.

Mr. Mapper said...

Its been some time since we visited the rock. I think we will put it on our short list of things to do.

Descartes said...

Great images, I have alway liked rusty things some reason. I will definetly have to stop by The Rock if I ever get out to SF.
At the moments its on my When I Win the Lotto List.
Good post.

AVCR8TEUR said...

Mr. Mapper, I'm sure Photowannabe would like to go too. :D

Descartes, good point, I should have taken more pictures of the rusty door. Funny, I'm on the same "When I win the Lotto" list.

Lilli & Nevada said...

I loved it when we went there back in the 70's was just wondering what it would look like now. thanks for sharing

AVCR8TEUR said...

Lilli & Nevada, it probably still looks the same as it should be to preserve the history.

Dana a/k/a Sunshine said...

Wow girl - look at all your comments!!! Can I just say I have been to Alcatraz and it was the most interesting place!! I absolutely loved it!!! I have GOT to dig out my photos from when we visited there (and the entire SF area). that is one of the best vacations we ever took. Hands down. My sister and I went to Alcatraz and did the audio tour and all...and it was just so cool to imagine what it must have been like....I have to share the pics with you. You will love them. I got some different ones than you....well, you aren't through posting so you might have these same ones, I just have to go dig them out...sorry I can't do it right now. I'll try to email them to you some other time though!! You will like them. I LOVED this post. Fantastic!!! Can't wait to see more.

Andrea said...

Wonderful posts. Great pictures.

hpy said...

Who hasn't heard of ALcatraz! Very interesting.

Andrea said...

Looks like the building takes up most of the island. Nice shot.

AVCR8TEUR said...

Dana, Glad to hear you got a chance to visit Alcatraz. I would love to see your photos and compare notes!

Andrea, There are several huage buildings on top of the hill and a small path that goes around part of the island.

Hpy, I guess this is a famous place. No wonder the tours are sold out a month in advance during the summer.

bonnie said...

I love visiting SF and have never done the Alcatraz tour. Maybe on my March visit I'll just DO it.

Flassie's Fil'a said...

Great Photos of your Tour.

Have a Blessed Happy
Creative Fun Year!!!

AVCR8TEUR said...

Bonnie, don't forget to go to the official Alcatraz site to reserve your tickets. Hope you have a good time. I want to see your photos after your trip. :)

Hi Flassie, thanks for dropping by and commenting.

Katney said...

We did a tour when we were in SF a few years ago. It was most intriguing. It was before I had a digital, but I think I saw my snaps around here someplace not long ago. It is a very interesting place to take pictures--so many possibilities.

I am an elementary school librarian, and I think that the only book relating to Alcatraz that I have in the library is "Al Capone Does My Shirts". Can't remember the author--I think it is Genny Chol----ko. It is a YA novel about a guard's family living on the island in the 30s. She catches the social life of the non-inmate inhabitants very nicely, and the oddity of living on Alcatraz and commuting to school in the City each day.

Stop by to visit my A floral offering.

AVCR8TEUR said...

Katney, You will just have to come back to SF to take more digital pictures. Thanks for the information about the book. Those peoples' lives sound so fascinating.

Εμμανουήλ said...

Very interesting Photos from Alcatraz island!
Well done!