When visiting my favorite city of San Francisco you cannot help but look out into the bay and see Alcatraz (Spanish for Pelican....named by explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala who discovered the "Rock" in 1775) Its been used for many things from a lighthouse during the California gold rush (1849) because of the increased shipping traffic. A fort during the American Civil War (1861) to protect the city from Confederate Raiders. A prison for soldiers convicted of desertion, theft, assault, rape and murder, and also by the army who used Alcatraz as a place of incarceration for Hopi, Apache and Modoc Indians captured during the many Indian Wars. But it was in 1934 is when it opened up as a Federal Penitentiary that most people know it as. It was a place where most of the 1545 inmates where considered "problems" in other prisons (from many escapes or troublemakers) To quote rule #5 "You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter and medical attention....anything else you get is a privilege" so as you walk the grounds you can sense that it was a place that would defeat your soul. In 1963 because of increased costs and maintenance the prison was closed and is now a National Park for all to take in this piece of iconic American history . So don't be disappointed as you need to book early, especially the spooky night tours either on-line, through your travel agent or if in the city you can go to Pier 33 near Fisherman's Wharf. Some interesting facts that i learned while touring the Rock; A) The Alcatraz lighthouse was the first on the Pacific Coast and has been in operation since 1854 B) After the great earthquake of 1906, 176 prisoners from San Fransisco jails were temporarily housed on Alcatraz C) Al Capones cell is unknown as part of his 4.5 years were spent in a hospital isolation ward D) Robert Stroud (Birdman of Alcatraz) had canaries at Leavenworth Penitentiary but never had birds at Alcatraz E) There were no executions on the Rock.....5 suicides and 8 murders F) Prisoners remained on Alcatraz on average 8-10 years G) Deer Mouse is the only land mammal on the Rock H) The sharks that swim around the island are sand sharks and not "man-eaters" KeyTip... to really enjoy the history experience, take advantage of the audio tours that is provided in all languages with individual headsets!!
|D Block of Jail Cells|