San Francisco Attractions] U.S. Federal Prison at Sea! San Francisco Alcatraz Island (Alcatraz Island)

Introduction to Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz (Alcatraz islandThe island, also known as Alcatraz, was once a federal prison and is one of San Francisco's most popular attractions. This small island is very close to downtown San Francisco, about ten minutes by boat from Pier 33, but the surrounding waters are very dangerous and the location is relatively isolated from the rest of the world. Alcatraz is actually a beautiful island in itself, but because of its geography, it was once a U.S. federal prison for felons during the 30 years from 1933-1963, and was known as the strongest prison in the U.S. The story of the island has been filmed many times. The story of the island has been made into a movie many times (the most famous one is Jedi Quest!), which has made Alcatraz Island a popular movie destination. The island has been made into a movie many times (the most famous being Jedi Quest!), which has made Alcatraz Island a household name.

Alcatraz Transportation

To get to Alcatraz, you have to take a boat, which isSan FranciscoFor popular sightseeing tours, there is actually a boat trip about half an hour away, but it is very easy to fail to get a ticket, so it is recommended to book early, as it is very difficult to go there on the spur of the moment. We wanted to go to Alcatraz for a long time, but it was not until there were fewer tourists during the COVID epidemic that we were finally able to book tickets for a more recent trip. The daytime fare is $49, and the nighttime fare is $56.

Pick up your tickets at Pier 33 and meet here 30 minutes before your reservation time to board the boat. The boat ride to Alcatraz Island is a great way to see the San Francisco skyline and is well worth the price of admission. After the tour, the boat ride back to Pier 33 will take only 10 minutes, and you can also stop by thePier 39Go check out the sea lions.

Alcatraz Itinerary

The general recommendation for the trip on Alcatraz is 2.5 hours, but the actual time we spent seems to be a little bit longer, and we have to pay attention to the return boat trip. After disembarking from the boat, unless special needs travelers can take the elevator, tourists usually walk up the hill to the prison, which will also take a little bit of time.

Alcatraz Pier

Get off the boat and arrive at the pier of Devil's Island. The prison building is on the hill, so tourists need to walk up the hill. At the pier, Ranger will gather all the passengers and give them a brief introduction, then they can walk up the hill.

History of Alcatraz: Military Bases, Federal Prisons, to the Indian Nations Self-Determination Movement

Alcatraz became a federal prison in 1934. Prior to that, it was first a military base for the U.S. Army, then a military prison, and then a federal prison. You can see the remaining gun emplacements and some of the old buildings before you get to the prison building.

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Alcatraz was occupied by the Indians as a stronghold of the National Self-Determination Movement from 1969-1971, and the traces of that history remain on the island today. The writing on the water tower dates from the movement. The small building next to the water tower is a morgue from the military prison era. Although the inmates of Alcatraz Island are all felons, they have never been executed, and only those who died of natural causes have been sentenced to death.

Alcatraz Prison

Since 1934, Alcatraz Island has been a federal prison for convicted felons. When you enter the main prison building, the first thing you see is a poster that reads, "Those who break the law go to prison, and those who break the law in prison go to Alcatraz," which tells us that the prisoners in Alcatraz back then were not ordinary criminals.

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"Break the rules and you go to prison, break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz."

Upon entering the prison, everyone comes to a place like a big bathhouse to line up. Here you can get an audio tour, and you can choose from a variety of languages. The audio guide of Alcatraz Island is very good, you can learn a lot of history of Alcatraz Island by following the instructions.

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Inside the prison is a simple, standardized cell, and prisoners basically live in this small space. Some cells can be visited. Inside, the standard equipment is a small table, a bed, a toilet and a sink.

There were several rows of cells, 336 in all. The rows closest to the outside had windows that let in a little more light, and were considered by the inmates to be the best spots. Since Alcatraz is so small and so close to San Francisco, you can even hear the laughter of people celebrating on the boats on New Year's Eve.

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During our visit we also encountered a live demonstration of the operation of a prison gate.

Inmates also try to take up a variety of interests to brighten up their lives in prison. Some devote themselves to the arts, engaging in music or painting as a means of physical and mental stimulation.

There is a small open space in the prison where inmates with good behavior can occasionally exercise. Even if they don't exercise, if they can find a place to sit on the high ground, they can still enjoy the sea view. This is probably the only good thing about being locked up on this small island.

This is the library in the prison, and I'm told that some inmates have access to remote mail-order classes as well.

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The window for the meeting seems to be smaller than what we usually see on TV.

Last but not least is the cafeteria. It is said that the food in Alcatraz is very good, but there have been times when the repetition of the menu has caused the inmates to protest collectively. In fact, the inmates here seem to be quite picky...

Prison Break

Since we are here in Alcatraz Island, we need to know about the most dramatic case of escape. The main reason why Alcatraz is a prison for felons is because the natural environment here makes escape very difficult, not to mention the scarcity of resources, but also to really escape from the extremely dangerous waters to swim a few miles away to San Francisco, of course, is not the average person can do it. However, there have been many escape attempts in the history of Alcatraz, with a total of 14 attempts. One of the most serious attempts was in 1946, when six men tried to escape. One of the inmates deliberately drew the attention of the guards on the second floor so that the others could grab the key that was hanging above the second floor. After grabbing the key, the inmate knocked down the guards and seized the gun. How did the culprit get up to the second floor? He used a homemade tool to bend the railing.

After the prisoners got their guns, the guards who came after them were controlled and put in the cells. But even though the prisoners had control of the prison, they were still unable to leave the island. So the angry prisoners killed the remaining guards. The federal government then sent in troops and dropped grenades from above the prison, bombing it for several rounds before the incident was over. We can still see the traces of what happened.

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Another famous escape was in 1962, when three inmates planned an escape. The three dug tunnels with spoons and escaped at night, using soap and food to make fake human heads as a disguise, which the guards finally found in the morning, but the men had disappeared. Officially, the men were thought to have drowned and disappeared at sea, but there were rumors that they had been seen in Mexico.

The Devil's Island Beyond the Prison

During the prison era, Alcatraz was not only a place for prisoners, but also a place for guards to work and stay. After the closure of Alcatraz Prison, these facilities remained with the prison and were opened by the U.S. government in 1972 as part of the Alcatraz Island Tourist Attraction. Here, we can see what life was like for the guards and their families at the same time.

Jailer's Office

Inside the prison, there is a door that leads to a large room, which is the main control room, where the guards control tools such as the radio. On the other side of the main control room, there is a smaller room, which is the guards' office. The guards' offices are quite simply furnished, and the warden's office is just a set of desks and chairs. The biggest advantage of the office is that you can look out the office windows and enjoy the view of the San Francisco cityscape.

The sea view outside the office is very beautiful, it is hard to imagine that the atmosphere inside and outside the prison across the wall is so different. Unlike the inmates locked up here, the guards only need to take a ten-minute boat ride to San Francisco city for leisure after work, so living on Alcatraz is actually very convenient.

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Prison officers' quarters

Most of the guards' families live on the island, and the family quarters were once the childhood home of the children of the Alcatraz guards. The interior of the building is not currently open for viewing.

Agave Trail

Agave Trail is a short trail on the other side of Alcatraz. You can walk down the stairs to the other side of the prison below, where we can see the whole prison building and a very nice view of the ocean.

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