"You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention. Anything else you get is a privilege." - Number 5, Alcatraz Prison Rules and Regulations, 1934
Alcatraz island is a small island located in the San Francisco Bay. It was used as a prison until 1963, now it is now a popular tourist attraction. Tours can be reserved at the official Alcatraz tour site. The tour reservations often fill up early, especially on weekends, so make sure to plan ahead. Most people spend about three to four hours touring the island and getting ferried back and forth, plan ahead because there is no food available on the island.
To reach the island, take one of the regularly scheduled ferries which leave from San Francisco's Pier 33. The trip to Alcatraz is similar to a bay tour, there is little need to take a bay tour if you're visiting Alcatraz. Once you are satisfied that you have enough of Alcatraz, just take the next ferry back to San Francisco. Ferries leave approximately every 45 minutes, so your wait won't be long.
The most popular tour is the self guided audio tour, which details the history of the prison and island. It can get crowded in the cell house, which is annoying if you like your space. The cell house itself is also very dusty and dirty from the thousands of tourists that feel the need to touch everything they can reach, keep your hands to yourself or you might end up regretting it.
Alcatraz Trivia (from the self guided tourbook, Discover Alcatraz):
- 1,545 men did time in Alcatraz prison.
- The exact location of Al Capone's cell is unknown. Part of his four and a half years on Alcatraz were spent in a hospital isolation cell.
- The "Birdman of Alcatraz" Robert Stroud had canaries at Leavenworth Penitentiary, but never had birds at Alcatraz. His real nickname was "Bird Doctor of Leavenworth."
- Other notable prisoners were "Doc" Barker, Alvin "Creepy" Karpis, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, and Floyd Hamilton.
- There were no executions on Alcatraz, although there were five suicides and eight murders.
- Modern day Native Americans occupied Alcatraz for 19 months, ending with their removal in 1971. In 1972 Congress created the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and made Alcatraz island a part of it.
- The only land mammal on Alcatraz is the deer mouse. The only amphibian is the California slender salamander.
- The lighthouse was the first on the Pacific Coast and has been in operation since 1854. The only service interruption happened in 1970, when fire destroyed the lighthouse keepers' quarters and disrupted power to the light.
A typical cell.