Over a million tourists visit Alcatraz in San Francisco every year.
Out of all San Francisco tours, Alcatraz #1 in TripAdvisor’s list of things to do in San Francisco. Why is it so popular? What you can expect there? What is Alcatraz?
Here are 7 reasons why visiting Alcatraz is a good idea when traveling to San Francisco.
Have you ever imagined yourself a criminal while watching American actions or popular world-known series about mafia, clans, and cartels?
Have you ever thought, what it feels like to be a prisoner, walk down those halls, eat that food, sleep in those cells on plank beds?
Have you ever found yourself working your mind on an escape plan together with a main movie character?
Alcatraz tour will take you to the atmosphere of those times when it was one of the most famous American prisons.
Having arrived at the Island on a ferry from the Pier 33, firstly you should look around and explore the area:
- prison building, which is the biggest construction on the Island
- houses of guards’ families
- playgrounds for inmates’ entertainment
- wild nature: plants and flowers
- birds, mostly gulls; they inhabit the Island, that is why you will see a lot of them there
- view of the city behind the ocean, which was the most unloved view in the cells of block D; it was considered a torture for prisoners, as it reminded them of freedom, they did not have and would most probably never see again.
The internal organization of the Building itself is worth mentioning as well. Prison corridors are named after popular American streets. No wonder if you find yourself walking down Broadway towards Times Square.
The building itself spreads the spirit of imprisonment with all those photos of correctional officers, criminals, their prison cells, kitchen, common area, outside courts etc. You will picture the life prisoners actually had in there.
Just for you to know, the Island was converted into the Museum in 1987. It became very popular due to its location and the purpose of foundation itself. As unsinkable Titanic, Alcatraz was an inescapable prison for most dangerous criminals and venturous felons. Even after masterly planned escapes, those who survived in ice-cold waters were taken back to prison by the guards.
The most horrifying and mysterious world-known prison even though no longer active, still draws a lot of attention of travelers and is one of the biggest attractions for tourists coming from everywhere.
Alcatraz is an Island with lighthouses, which primary purpose was to signal arriving ships of approaching the rocky coast on a foggy weather. In the 19th century the island was used as a military fort for the Bay defense, and later as a security prison for the most dangerous criminals. In 1973 the prison was converted into the Museum and nowadays is still open for public.
Life of prisoners
To absorb the spirit of the place you should get inside and see the “In-door life” of an Island. Walking down the prison corridors, getting into the cells, seeing that mode of life, prisoners had there, will terrify you a little at the beginning. All corridors are called after popular American streets and avenues, e.g. the main corridor is a Broadway, which crosses Michigan Avenue and so on.
Walking along, your attention will be drawn to the photos of correctional officers and inmates, which will help to see the “image” more clearly. You will see the kitchen equipped with tear gas containers along the perimeter, the menu with the list of food provided, visitation booths, library etc.
Numerous stories about the imprisonment life of the criminals, their deliberate attempts to escape and mysterious disappearances – all these facts and other enigmatic legends are being narrated during the audio tour through Alcatraz. Some of them will make you surprised, some of them will make you sympathize felons. But anyways be sure you will be taken to a new level of understanding of Life and History.
Alcatraz tour may not be realistic if you have just one day in the city, but is a must-do if you have at least 2 days in San Francisco.
After the tour you may want to spend some time at the souvenir shop on the Island, where you can purchase prison dishes, kitchenware and even the Key from Alcatraz!
Now it’s the right time to get back to freedom, to San Francisco embankment!
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