Alcatraz Island Things to Do

  • Where the ferry arrives on the island.
    Where the ferry arrives on the island.
    by CDM7
  • Alcatraz from the ferry.
    Alcatraz from the ferry.
    by CDM7
  • Sign on the wall
    Sign on the wall
    by CDM7

Most Recent Things to Do in Alcatraz Island

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    Walking the aisles of Alcatraz

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    It is impossible to walk these cold and narrow aisles of Alcatraz and not get a chill down your spine. When you hear the stories of the men who were imprisoned here and realize you are walking the same paths they walked it can really spook you. The cold and colorless corridors are reminders of the actual events that happened here. Its a fascianating tour and the closest I will ever want to get to an actual prison.

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    Escape from Alcatraz

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    Guard tower

    Alcatraz was considered to be escape proof. There were 36 prisoners who were involved in escape attempts. Seven were shot and killed. Two drowned. Five were unaccounted for. The rest were all recaptured. There were two prisoners who made it off the island. One in 1945 and one in 1962. Both were returned to the prison. Two prisoners in the 1962 attempt were never caught but it is doubted they survived the swim across the bay.

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    Walking considerations

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    The distance from the dock to the cellhouse at the top of the island is about 1/4 mile. There is a steep elevation change in this distance. You will walk approximately 130 feet or the equivalent to a thirteen story climb. There are some transport shuttles available for those unable to make the climb. There is no food service available on the island. Food and drinks are available on the ferry ride to Alcatraz and can be consumed in the dock area. Bottled water is available and is the only beverage allowed on the tour.

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    Under construction

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    Much of Alcatraz is in disrepair. There is currently a drive to collect funds for restoration and part of the tour proceeds will go towards restoration. But for a lot of the island there is not much to repair. The weather elements of the area have led to a lot of the destruction. The salt water from the pipes caused a lot of damage to the building while still a prison. Today the winds and dampness continue to wear away at the buildings. This is the remains fof the Wardens house. At one time it was a large mansion located just outside the prison. The warden and his family lived in luxury literally just a few steps from the cold prison walls.

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    Alcatraz and Hollywood

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    There have been many movies made about and on the island of Alcatraz. I found this old prop from Clint Eastwoods movie Escape from Alcatraz in the basement of the cellhouse. It was in a room to itself and no one was around so I walked in and took the pictures. The movie was filmed on location and used the actual cells in the prison. There is a cell with props from the movie on the guided tour. Another recent movie filmed on Alcatraz is The Rock with Sean Connery. It shows the island much as it appears today. Perhaps the most famous film is The Bird Man of Alcatraz. It was nominated for several Academy Awards including one for best actor for Burt Lancaster. He did not win the award which to me is ironic after hearing how the story was distorted by Hollywood for the movie.

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    Under construction

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    The tour of Alcatraz included the stories of many of its more famous residents. Pictured here on this wall are some of the more notorious criminals from Alcatraz. However contrary to what many have been told Alcatraz was to hold on a few of the more infamous headline makers of the time. The majority of the prisoners had little fame or renoun. Some of the more famous names include Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Alvin Karpis from the Ma Barker gang, and of course famous from the movie "The Bird Man of Alcatraz" Robert Stroud.

    We were told on the tour of the many inaccuracies of the movie The Bird Man of Alcatraz. First of all Robert Stroud was never allowed to have any birds while in prison on Alcatraz. His bird study was conducted at Levenworth Prison before he was tranferred to Alcatraz. He also was portrayed in the movie, by Burt Lancaster, as a very sympathic character. In reality the tour guide explained he was more like Hannibal Lecter. He told us that Stroud was one of the most violent prisoners on Alcatraz and was kept in solitary confinment due to his violent nature.

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    Alcatraz - A typical cell

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    Alcatraz was known for housing the most violent and dangerous criminals in the United States. Here is a typical cell on Alcatraz. You can see by the size of the cell the prisoner was contained in nothing much more than a cage. There are 336 cells in B and C blick in the middle of the prison complex. There were an additional 42 cells in the isolated D block.

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    Whats the guy in the hat doing in prison?

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    Here I am on the audio tour of the prison. As you can see I also have a map in my hands to help guide myself on the tour. The maps are not free. There are several different maps and brochures on the island. For each one you are requested to make a donation of $2.00. Here I am just outside of one of the typical cells in Alcatraz.

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    Alcatraz Contrasts

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    There are lots of contrasts on Alcatraz Island. From the decaying concrete of old buildings to beautiful bay scenery in the background there are many contrasting views. Many of the remaining buildings are covered in bird droppings. There are literally thousands of birds dwelling on the island. At times during my tour the birds could be heard very loudly making their claim to the island.

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    The Industrial Building

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    There are many sites to see on the island. Pictured here is the remains of the Old Industrial Building. This was a building were many of the prisoners worked. After an escape attempt from this building resulting in much violence, the Industrial building was closed and new safer work area was constructed. This building sits directly on the edge of a cliff. Due to its location and odd L shaped construction the escape attempt was almost successful. This is one of many stories told on a Travel Channel documentary about Alcatraz I was able to view after returning from San Francisco.

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    Cellhouse Recorded Tour

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    Here the other guy in the hat has his earphones in place and is ready to start the Cellhouse recorded tour. The price of the tour is included in your ticket price. On the tour you will hear voices of inmates, sounds of the prison, and correctional officers as you walk through the prison. It takes approximately 35 minutes for the recorded tour. The tour is recorded in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese and French.

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    Alcatraz - The Rock

    by littlesam1 Updated Sep 9, 2005

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    If you are planning to visit Alcatraz keep in mind it is a very popular tourist destination. It is strongly adviced that you order your tickets in advance as the tours sell out daily. The tour is available daily all year long except on Christmas and New Year's Day. But then who would really want to spend Christmas in a prison. The island closes daily at 6:30 in the summer. It closes at 4:30 in the fall, winter, and spring.

    As you can see from this picture some area's of Alcatraz are closed to the public due to safety concerns. The closed area's are well marked and the security guards on the island do not play games.

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    Cell house ~ Spend a Night

    by perseushermes Updated Sep 6, 2005

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    Cell

    According to history, the prison was clean and food was good. But I think the view is "a bit" constrained. Can you imagine having the view of the bars, every day, all day , 365 days in a year.

    I can't! but I experience the view from the inside. A toilet seat, 2 tables and a bunk (which has been removed)

    Not a nice feeling

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    Criminals

    by perseushermes Updated Sep 6, 2005

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    Convicts

    George " Machine Gun" Kelly
    ~ jailed for kidnapping

    Al "Scarface" Capone
    ~ jailed for tax evasion. He spent part of his 4.5 years on Alcatraz in a hospital isolation cell.

    Robert Stroud "Birdman of Alcatraz"
    ~ jailed for manslaughter, murder.

    Meyer "Mickey" Cohen
    ~ jailed for racketeering

    Alvin "Creepy" Karpis
    ~ jailed for kidnapping , bank robbery.

    Arthur "Doc" Barker
    ~ jailed for kidnapping

    .... "the inmates of Alcatraz were numerous as far as public enemies went"

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    Tour the grounds

    by goingsolo Updated Jul 10, 2005
    Alcatraz

    The audio tour of the cellhouse is the most popular activity on Alcatraz. But be sure to also spend some time walking around the island as there is more to Alcatraz than the 30 or so years it was used as a prison.

    The first lighthouse ever operated on the Pacific Coast can be found here. It is still operated by the Coast Guard, although there is no longer a lighthouse keeper's residence on the island. Many of the other buildings were partially destroyed by fire and by demolition before it was stopped by Congress. But the remains of these buildings stand on the island as further reminders of Alcatraz' military presence and the lives and residences of the prison wardens and officers who lived here.

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