New York has Times Square, Philadelphia has Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, but in San Francisco, it is Alcatraz that draws people in, by the thousands daily. One would think that on a day with rain falling from sunrise to sunset that demand for tickets to visit this historic rock in San Francisco harbour would subside. No such luck.
We squeezed onto the ferry early in the afternoon, grabbing a piece of real estate on the top deck, umbrellas protecting us from the pelting rain. People from all over the world were joining us on this short 20 minute excursion to one of the most famous maximum security prisons in America. Though it closed almost 50 years ago, it remains as one of the city's top tourist draws.
|Alcatraz Shower Room|
Walking down Broadway, the centre hallway lined with cell after lonely cell, stark with a sink, toilet, bed frame, fold down table and bench seat, the murmurs and machinations simmered in the background. The audio recording, complete with the sound of jail cells closing and inmate protestations added an eerie sense of reality to the experience.
|Robert Stroud from AlcatrazHistory.com|
|Alcatraz Control Room|
Attorney General Robert Kennedy signed the death knell of Alcatraz, a decision to close the facility made out of escalating costs and a deteriorating infrastructure, not to mention a community that was tired of raw sewage from the Rock being dumped right into the bay. It was closed as a penitentiary on March 21, 1963.
I'm glad we went. The audio self-guided tour thing was awesome, elevating the experience in a way that I really enjoyed. History was brought to life on this Alcatraz adventure and I would highly recommend it for anyone visiting San Francisco. I suspect, owing to day after day of sold out tours, that many others have done exactly the same.
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