San Francisco Photo Tour

Alcatraz Page 1

Wheelchair accessible Note: You must make your Reservations three days in advance to go to Alcatraz Island. Find out how to do it, plus see a preview of the trip to Alcatraz.
Alcatraz Page 2
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Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island was better known as "The Rock" by former inmate prisoners who were imprisoned there. When the island was discovered by Juan Manuel Ayala in 1775 it was named "Pelican Island" because of the many pelicans that migrate there. The island is still a sanctuary for many birds.

Ticket booth

If you want to take the Alcatraz tour when you come to San Francisco you need to make your reservations three days in advance. For reservations to Alcatraz call the Blue & Gold Fleet at (415) 705-5555 or get tickets at Pier 41 if you are here for more than three days.

Photo of the ferry boat to Alcatraz

You need to be at Pier 41 twenty minutes before the boat departs to board. They will take your groups picture when you get on the boat, but if you don't want to purchase the picture then take your own after you return from Alcatraz.

Boat leaving San Francisco

Well after a long wait we are finally on our way to Alcatraz. As we leave San Francisco you will begin to see the beautiful skyline and you will also notice that it can get quite cold out on the bay. You should bring a sweater or a good wind-breaker, plus comfortable walking shoes, because there are many hills to climb on the island. Even when the sun's out, it is cold on the bay.

Light house on Alcatraz

We are about half way to the island now and you can get a better look at the light house. (It is still sending out its light.) This side of the island is to the west and we will get off the ferry on the east side of the island.

Messages written by Indian's on Alcatraz

As we approach the island you can see messages left by the Indians, they reclaimed the island after the prison closed in 1963. In 1972 it became a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Many people have said that they would like to make the island a large gambling casino.

Park Ranger at Alcatraz

After getting off the ferry boat we are greeted by a park ranger. They tell some of the history of the island. From this point on it is a walking tour and you are free to roam anyplace on the island that is not restricted. You can stay as long as you like, but remember what times the ferry boat departs.

The old Military Chapel

Now start walking up the long walkway to the top of "The Rock" to the prison. From the 1850s to 1933 the island served as a military post protecting the bay. Along the way you can see the remains of the old post. This building was the military chapel, it shows the buildings were built with a spanish design.

In 1934 the vacated buildings of the military post were converted to house the people working in the prison. It is believed that the prison was totally escape-proof, because of the sheer cliffs, treacherous tides and currents, and the frigid temperatures of the water. In 1963 the prison closed after a apparent escape in which no bodies were ever recovered.

Wheelchair accessible Note: They have a motorized tram that will take people unable to walk to the top of the hill. The boat to Alcatraz is also wheelchair accessible.

The people wearing a walkman on tour of Alcatraz

As you enter the prison you will be issued a walkman tape player and earphones if you paid for the audio tour. You can start and stop the tape along the tour if you want to stop and look around. The tape tells you which direction to go and tells about what went on here while the prison was in operation. Above is one of the four cell blocks.

Al Capone's cell

Among the famous gangsters who were imprisoned here were Al Capone; Robert Stroud, the so-called Bird-man of Alcatraz (because he was an expert in bird diseases); Machine Gun Kelly; and Alvin Karpis. Alcatraz was built to keep every inmate directly under the point of a gun.

One of the park rangers told me they don't know exactly which cell Al Capone occupied, but they believe it was this cell. He also said a lot of the prison records are missing, they were either stolen for souvenirs, loaned out and never returned, or were lost when the Indians claimed the island.

The next stop on my Photo Tour is "Alcatraz Page 2", to go there Click below.

Alcatraz Page 2
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Photographed and created by David T. Smith

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