I learned a lot yesterday while visiting Alcatraz, the first fact being that it is a National Park, and thus we must follow a gazillion rules while there. No stealing things! If you want a piece of the Rock, you buy one in the gift shop for $14.95.
No leaving litter behind either. You aren’t allowed to eat there, except at the landing area, which I understand. People are slobs. If you let them snarfle up snacks while looking in the prison cells and clomping around, soon the whole place would be filled with potato chip bags and juice boxes. It is kind of a strange place to bring little kids, I thought, but what do I know? The ferry was packed with ’em.
I learned that Alcatraz was first a fort, used to defend San Francisco in wartime. Next, it was strictly a military prison from 1915 to the Depression years. Finally, it was used as a maximum security prison from 1934 to 1963. The worst prisoners were sent to the Rock ~ violent unrepentant men who refused to cooperate in regular prisons.
My daughter and I opted for the audio tour, and I learned that this is a great way to go at your own pace through a museum while still getting info. From now on, this is what I’m going to choose when it’s available. (Usually, I wander cluelessly alone because I don’t like guides rushing me.)
Despite its isolation and security, there were still several escape attempts from the Rock. Escapees who were not found were presumed to have drowned. As shown above, in 1946 a prisoner planned a prison takeover and a battle raged inside the walls for 2 days. There was also an occupation in 1969 for over a year by American Indians who wanted attention for various issues. After that was over, the government began to bulldoze the buildings until Congress made Alcatraz into a National Park.
We didn’t get to see all the flowers and birds that thrive on the island, but that’s okay. The buildings were certainly interesting enough. Mini-factoid: the dining hall was considered to be the most dangerous place in the prison.
My daughter and I had a gorgeous but cold 🥶 day in San Francisco! Look at those rain clouds… we returned home just in time. For pizza, that is.
Don’t look, Stan!
If I can’t be in Chicago or New York, my next favorite pizza is Star in Alameda… this is their deep dish spinach mushroom with cornbread crust. So so so good! 😍
Images all mine!
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