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Alcatrez is a great escape from the busy Bay Area

In dozens of trips to the Bay Area, I had never visited Alcatraz before; it operated as a federal prison from 1934 to 1963 but is now run by the National Park Service with an estimated 2 million annual visitors

In dozens of trips to the Bay Area, I had never visited Alcatraz before; it operated as a federal prison from 1934 to 1963 but is now run by the National Park Service with an estimated 2 million annual visitors

One of the prison’s most famous inmates was Robert Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz); after being sentenced for murder, Stroud took up ornithology and was considered to be an expert by the time he arrived on the island in 1942

One of the prison’s most famous inmates was Robert Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz); after being sentenced for murder, Stroud took up ornithology and was considered to be an expert by the time he arrived on the island in 1942

In 1962, 3 inmates placed dummy heads made of soap, cement and paint under their blankets and crawled through small vents to the roof; they slid down a stove pipe and swam away where they are presumed to have drowned

In 1962, 3 inmates placed dummy heads made of soap, cement and paint under their blankets and crawled through small vents to the roof; they slid down a stove pipe and swam away where they are presumed to have drowned

Alcatraz had the first lighthouse on the West Coast which began operating in 1854; today's lighthouse dates from 1909 and was manned until the US Coast Guard automated it in 1963

Alcatraz had the first lighthouse on the West Coast which began operating in 1854; today's lighthouse dates from 1909 and was manned until the US Coast Guard automated it in 1963

When Al Capone was held at Alcatraz, he gave regular Sunday concerts with the inmate band, the Rock Islanders (he played the banjo); by some estimates, Capone's crime syndicate pulled in around $100 million a year, the largest portion from bootlegging

When Al Capone was held at Alcatraz, he gave regular Sunday concerts with the inmate band, the Rock Islanders (he played the banjo); by some estimates, Capone's crime syndicate pulled in around $100 million a year, the largest portion from bootlegging

Beginning in November 1969, Native American activists occupied Alcatraz for 19  months claiming it was their land based on the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) between the US government and the Sioux

Beginning in November 1969, Native American activists occupied Alcatraz for 19+ months claiming it was their land based on the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) between the US government and the Sioux

When Native Americans occupied Alcatraz in 1969 they used the water tower as a giant billboard writing messages to the world; their 19 month occupation is credited with launching the American Indian civil rights movement

When Native Americans occupied Alcatraz in 1969 they used the water tower as a giant billboard writing messages to the world; their 19 month occupation is credited with launching the American Indian civil rights movement

This 1934 Diamond T Fire Engine saw limited action but did quench the flames when a large pile of towels caught fire in 1947; in 2003, it was restored to its original condition thanks to the work of inmates at the Indian Springs State Prison

This 1934 Diamond T Fire Engine saw limited action but did quench the flames when a large pile of towels caught fire in 1947; in 2003, it was restored to its original condition thanks to the work of inmates at the Indian Springs State Prison

It's hard to imagine San Francisco looking like this!; Alcatraz is 2 km offshore and is reached now by a 15 minute ferry ride from Pier 33 (the cost is $40 and includes an informative audioguide)

It's hard to imagine San Francisco looking like this!; Alcatraz is 2 km offshore and is reached now by a 15 minute ferry ride from Pier 33 (the cost is $40 and includes an informative audioguide)

An excellent audioguide takes you on a tour of the main cell block explaining a normal day in the life of a prisoner including the meal room, library and rec yard; it really gave perspective to what is today a pretty rundown building

An excellent audioguide takes you on a tour of the main cell block explaining a normal day in the life of a prisoner including the meal room, library and rec yard; it really gave perspective to what is today a pretty rundown building

The popular Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon has taken place for 40 yrs and features a 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz, a grueling 18-mile bike ride, and a demanding 8-mile run through the trails of the Golden Gate Recreational Area

The popular Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon has taken place for 40 yrs and features a 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz, a grueling 18-mile bike ride, and a demanding 8-mile run through the trails of the Golden Gate Recreational Area

Nicknamed Art Deco trucks, they were used to haul supplies on the island; this particular 1946 Chevy model was brought to Alcatraz in 1993 for use in the Warner Brothers movie Murder in the First

Nicknamed Art Deco trucks, they were used to haul supplies on the island; this particular 1946 Chevy model was brought to Alcatraz in 1993 for use in the Warner Brothers movie Murder in the First

Alcatraz closed as a penitentiary in 1963; it cost much more to operate than other prisons (nearly $10 per prisoner per day, as opposed to $3 per prisoner per day at Atlanta) and half a century of salt water saturation had severely eroded the buildings

Alcatraz closed as a penitentiary in 1963; it cost much more to operate than other prisons (nearly $10 per prisoner per day, as opposed to $3 per prisoner per day at Atlanta) and half a century of salt water saturation had severely eroded the buildings

Alcatraz from Coit Tower; Al Capone arrived by train to Alcatraz; the warden at the time was so worried about security that they loaded the train car onto a barge instead of unloading the prisoners from the train and moving them to a boat

Alcatraz from Coit Tower; Al Capone arrived by train to Alcatraz; the warden at the time was so worried about security that they loaded the train car onto a barge instead of unloading the prisoners from the train and moving them to a boat

Softball was the most popular pastime, with prisoners using a diamond here; organized teams played using shorter innings with balls going over the fence being outs, not home runs (guess they were tough to replace)

Softball was the most popular pastime, with prisoners using a diamond here; organized teams played using shorter innings with balls going over the fence being outs, not home runs (guess they were tough to replace)

Imagine being able to see the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco while incarcerated at Alcatraz; it reminds me of Robben Island in Cape Town with a view of Table Mountain

Imagine being able to see the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco while incarcerated at Alcatraz; it reminds me of Robben Island in Cape Town with a view of Table Mountain

When Spanish Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala became the first known European to sail through the Golden Gate in 1775, he christened the rocky outcrop La Isla de los Alcatraces, meaning Island of the Pelicans

When Spanish Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala became the first known European to sail through the Golden Gate in 1775, he christened the rocky outcrop La Isla de los Alcatraces, meaning Island of the Pelicans

Alcatraz from Golden Gate Bridge; during 29 years of operation, the penitentiary claimed no prisoner successfully escaped; 36 prisoners tried with 23 caught alive, six shot and killed, two drowned, and five listed as missing and presumed drowned

Alcatraz from Golden Gate Bridge; during 29 years of operation, the penitentiary claimed no prisoner successfully escaped; 36 prisoners tried with 23 caught alive, six shot and killed, two drowned, and five listed as missing and presumed drowned

Fort Alcatraz was first manned by the US Army in 1858 to protect SF Bay with the Fort's Rodman guns being able to shoot 440 lb cannonballs 3 miles; during the Civil War 105 cannon were mounted here as Fort Alcatraz served as a weapons arsenal

Fort Alcatraz was first manned by the US Army in 1858 to protect SF Bay with the Fort's Rodman guns being able to shoot 440 lb cannonballs 3 miles; during the Civil War 105 cannon were mounted here as Fort Alcatraz served as a weapons arsenal

Posted by VagabondCowboy 09:39

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