(written by Bill)
Linda and I took some time last week to go on a tour of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. It’s interesting that we both have lived in the Bay Area our entire life and never taken time to visit this fascinating island.
We are now veterans of the tour and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Here are some interesting facts that we learned – Alcatraz was best known as a federal penitentiary, however, it actually began as a military fortification back in 1853 during the gold rush days. It housed more than 400 soldiers at it’s peak but with military technology advancing so quickly, during the civil war, Alcatraz was deemed obsolete and formally decommissioned in 1907.
An interesting note is the military actually used Alcatraz as a prison and when it was decommissioned, soldiers were replaced by U.S. Military Guard and a huge concrete cellhouse was built. In 1915 Alcatraz was renamed “United States Disciplinary Barracks, Pacific Branch”.
During the great depression in the 1930’s a newly created Bureau of Prison’s took over Alcatraz and in 1934 it became a federal penitentiary. Some of the more notorious inmates were – Al “Scarface” Capone, “Doc” Barker, Alvin “Creepy” Karpis, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Floyd Hamilton, and Robert Stroud the “Birdman of Alcatraz”.
Then in 1963, with increasing maintenance and operating cost rising, U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy closed Alcatraz and the last inmate departed on March 21.
In 1972 Congress created the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and made Alcatraz a part of GGNRA administered by the National Park Services, making Alcatraz one of todays most popular tourist attraction.
Alcatraz has an extremely colorful past and one can’t help but to view it with jaw dropping amazement. I highly recommend taking a tour, but don’t expect to buy tickets at the dock, they are typically sold out 2-3 weeks in advance.
Here are a few of the photos I took during our visit.
You can see all of the pictures I took during the day by clicking: http://www.motionphotographyonline.com/Na/Alcatraz/25466447_4wM5P2#!i=2097674297&k=hnvVVVD
To get more information on Alcatraz click here: http://www.nps.gov/alca/index.htm
To get information on tours of Alcatraz click here: http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/