Posts Tagged ‘Alcatraz island’

Three hours on Alcatraz.

Posted: November 21, 2019 in California, History, USA
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Reminds me of my last visit to SanFrancisco about 12 years ago when Sue and I visited the Island. So close to the city yet there are no records of a successful escape, only 1 prisoner who escaped and was never recaptured, but he is presumed to have drowned in the bay. Despite its location very lonely and very atmospheric.

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No trip to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to Alcatraz Island. Just over a mile offshore it is windswept and battered by swift tides.

Alcatraz was a federal prison that housed some of the countries most dangerous criminals including Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. Since its closure in 1963 it began to fall into disrepair but this and its location led to its becoming a major tourist attraction.

We caught the ferry from Pier 33 for the short crossing to the island and did the guided audio tour. We were able to look at the very basic cells.

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Outside there was a bare recreation area from where you could catch a tantalising glimpse of the mainland. So near yet so far away.

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It was a fascinating tour. Part history and part Hollywood with clips from the Clint Eastwood film.

But, three hours was quite enough time…

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Alcatraz Island has been the site of a lighthouse (the oldest one on the west coast of the USA); a military fortification; a military prison (from 1868); a federal prison (from 1933-1963) and is from 1972 a National Historic Landmark.

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Its height of fame was reached during its time as a federal prison when many famous criminals were incarcerated here including Al Capone; Robert Stroud (made famous as ‘The Birdman of Alcatraz’ by a 1962 film) and ‘Machine gun’ Kelly.

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As far as anyone knows no-one ever escaped from Alcatraz prison and made it safely to the shore, although 5 prisoners remain listed as ‘missing presumed drowned’