Tuesday, April 9, 2013


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.  IMG_20130409_115731_440  As soon as everyone was on the boat, they locked the doors and us in.  IMG_20130409_120159_228  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.

Upon arriving on Alcatraz Island, one can see the national park signs, but the first building is the officers quarters.  DSC02492DSC02493DSC02495

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.DSC02496  Many of the original buildings have deteriorated due to fire such as the Officers Club, Chapel and Warden’s home. DSC02497DSC02500DSC02509  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.

This is a first view of the Cell House.  Access is up a walkway-road to the height of a 13 story building.  DSC02502 

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.

As we continued our walk towards the cell house, we saw the gardens and foundations of the officers homes.  DSC02505DSC02507

Since this was a military property in the middle of San Francisco Bay, a lighthouse was needed to aid navigation, and it has been operating from 1909 to present.  DSC02508DSC02514DSC02526

Life inside the main prison was night luxurious.  In fact, each cell housed only one prisoner.  DSC02515DSC02519DSC02520DSC02521DSC02522DSC02523

Interestingly, if you have a visitor, you get to see him/her through one of these little square window.  DSC02524  Your visitor gets to see you from the other side of the wall.  DSC02527  Here is a volunteer explaining, and demonstrating how the cell block doors are opened and closed.  DSC02528

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.

Here are a couple of goodbye pictures to Alcatraz Island and its infamous prison.  DSC02529DSC02530DSC02531DSC02532DSC02534

Type at you later.

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