We took our last ferry ride to San Francisco from Vallejo today on the 10am ferry. As soon as we reached the Ferry Dock at 11am, we started walking to Pier 33 so we could get our will-call tickets in time to catch our boat to Alcatraz Island. We made it. We even had time to visit the rest rooms. Here is our ride to prison. As soon as everyone was on the boat, they locked the doors and us in. Alcatraz Island began its inhabited life as a military fort to protect San Francisco. Eventually it became a military prison in the 1860s, and finally the Maximum Security Prison we recognize from television and the movies. The federal prison was only in use from 1934 to 1963, but housed some famous prisoners like Al Capone and the Bird Man.
The Rock was first occupied by the military in the early 1850’s to defend San Francisco from enemy attack. In fact, the first building is the Sally Port built in 1857. Over one hundred canon were placed on the island for defense. Many of the original buildings have deteriorated due to fire such as the Officers Club, Chapel and Warden’s home. The reason they are in such deteriorated state is that they were declared a National Historic Site by Richard Nixon. Thus the exterior walls can not be changed.
Upon entering the cell house, you can pick up a set of head phones for an audio tour of the cell block by both guards and prisoners. It is one of the most wonderfully done audio tours we have taken. You hear information about conditions and attempted escapes.
Interestingly, if you have a visitor, you get to see him/her through one of these little square window. Your visitor gets to see you from the other side of the wall. Here is a volunteer explaining, and demonstrating how the cell block doors are opened and closed.
We caught the 3:45pm ferry back to San Francisco (I did not leave Marilyn, and she did not leave me on the island), and then had to hustle to catch the 4:30 ferry back to Vallejo. We arrived at the ferry dock at 4:25pm, and the doors were closed, but one very nice passenger on the ferry came back and opened the doors so we did not have to wait for a later one.
Type at you later.