Welcome To Alcatraz!
This legendary shot of a prison guard at Alcatraz is haunting – a solitary guard watching over some of America’s worst criminals, housed on a “rock” in San Francisco Bay – and guess what – you can see it up close!
Welcome to “The Rock!”
Yes, America’s most notorious prison is open to the public – and is located in one of the most unique place imaginable – on a rock in the middle of San Francisco bay!
Alcatraz is fascinating to me – and the subject of many great films like “Escape From Alcatraz” with Clint Eastwood and “Birdman Of Alcatraz” with Burt Lancaster!
One of the great action films of the 90’s is “The Rock” with Nicolas Cage and Sean Connery, shot on the rock itself!
Now, you can tour the island where the prison is located – and wander through the cellblocks as well!
As we board a ferry to the island, here are some facts to share:
Alcatraz Island is just a mile offshore from the heart of downtown San Francisco, since it is located in the middle of San Francisco Bay. The island was a military prison in 1868, then it was turned into a federal prison in 1934. After almost thirty years housing some of America’s worst criminals, it was finally closed permanently in 1963.
In 1972, Alcatraz became a national recreation area and was made a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
So, it’s time to head to the island! As you will see from this video, it’s a windy ride across the bay, with the Golden Gate bridge easily visible in the distance!
You will hear that it is VERY WINDY on the ride over, so bundle up!
It’s a truly spectacular trip on a sunny day – if you want to go, you MUST get your tickets online well in advance as it’s always sold out!
Welcome to “The Rock!”
You arrive through an abandoned corridor, but this actually helps with the mystique of the place – and there are a ton of great signs that tell you all about the prison:
The tour is well-organized, and you end up exactly where you want to be: on cellblock row, where the inmates lived!
The best part is they have several still “dressed” as if lived in, and they let you inside a few as well!
Imagine living for 20-30 years in this space! Of course, my wife Alex and I got the obligatory “let me out of here Warden!” shots!
They have other areas open as well, and lots of vintage pictures of life in the prison – and if you feel “locked up”, you can just go outside and look back at San Francisco!
Imagine being housed there for years – and always seeing the city so close, yet so far away! A recent story suggested that the only inmates who escaped from the island might not have drowned, but actually made it to shore!
We’ll never know, as you can see from the video I shared earlier, the water is really rough and since it’s Pacific Ocean water, ice cold as well!
Heading away from the island, you can see the San Francisco skyline, Golden Gate bridge and sailboats in the bay.
It takes 15 minutes by ferry from San Francisco’s Pier 33 – and as I said, you MUST get advance tickets.
Of course, since you are right there, head a few blocks away to pier 39 and see some seals – lots and lots of seals!
You are literally just a few feet away from hundreds of seals – and yes, it smells like it too!
You can see more of my story about the seals here:
Let me know if you’ve ever been to Alcatraz!