North America

San Francisco – Alcatraz Island

Being in San Francisco meant I was close to Alcatraz Island so I had to make the trip. Only 1.25 miles offshore from the bay, I took a ferry from pier 33 to this infamous small island which served as a military and federal prison up until 1963 and has now been turned into a museum and National Park.  

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On route to Alcatraz Island

You can see the tiny island from the distance and it’s exciting as you approach if not a slightly intimidating as we circled the island. You really being to appreciate how difficult it must have been to escape. There is a huge sign ‘United States Penitentiary’ and well as a sign saying, ‘No Indians Allowed’. Native Indians occupied the island for 19 months.  

There was a long walk uphill to the actual penitentiary, and I really got a feel of this having become a national park

At the top, I picked up an audio guide and started talking down the now empty prison corridors. There was a real insight into the lives of prisoners, walking down the narrow hallways the prison cells were tiny. A few were facing open windows where sunshine would hit the faces of prisoners, these were where those exemplifying good behavior’ where kept. One of the cells had a painting of how the prisoner imagined the outside world to look and we could hear the sound of people partying on the San Fran mainland on the audio guide. I could imagine how taunting that would be to hear if you were locked up in here.

A really eerie yet insightful experience as I walked along the prison blocks, the audio guide was on point with the background noise of other prisoners it was an immersive experience and step into history.

I found a little Rosa Parks doll in a section called, ‘The Future is Now’ showcasing how far we have come as the human race through civil rights movements and technology. It reads, ‘Rosa Parks reminds you to never be fearful if what you are doing is right’.

Waiting for the last ferry back to San Francisco it was getting cold and no one wanted to be stuck on Alcatraz. The view was magnificent, I could really put myself in the shoes of the prisoners who were trapped here before me.

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Looking back at the bay area from Alcatraz Island

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