Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I went to Alcatraz several years ago with my family when I was 14. I was fascinated by the stories that they told on the audio tour of the Birdman, Al Capone, and the multiple break out attempts. I was thrilled to go back again a few weeks ago when my friend from college, Jeremiah and his wife Janai, were in the bay area for the weekend.
Welcome to the Rock

I loved that they had "The Rock" with Sean Connery playing in the gift shop. Speaking of the gift shop, they had this great magnet that I bought highlighting one of the main rules of the prison, which will be the "regulation" of our house: "You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter, and medical attention. Anything else you get is a privilege."

Despite my having been there before, I learned several new things. Originally, the island was a fort but as threats decreased, they realized that it would be a good location for maximum security prison. I also had not realized that FAMILIES of the guards lived on the island and planted gardens and played games. Afterward, there was a period where the island was trying to be reclaimed by Native Americans. That explained why the words "Indians Welcome" were painted above the penitentiary sign.

They had a new introductory video about Alcatraz that was very well done. They had changed the audio tour since I last went and I was disappointed that they didn't spend more time discussing in detail some of the criminals housed in Alcatraz as that was my favorite part. However, I was even more disappointed when my audio guide BROKE halfway through the tour!! Major bummer- but at least I had William to help sum up the parts that I missed.

I LOVE the show Prison Break and I had not realized just how many similarities exist between the partially "successful" breakout and the show. My experience was seriously enhanced from watching all of those episodes.

I could not believe that the prisoners were able to make a bar spreader like this, as well as pretty detailed plaster casts of their faces. Talk about utilizing everyday items

But, some prisoners actually were allowed knit while in their cell. I like the pink yarn to emphasize this

These are the marks of where the grenades hit when they tried to quell the riots.

I thought that it was ironic that all of the "seedy" characters got placed on "C-D Street"

William and I were glad that we didn't have to permanently stay in the black boxes with no light.

We could not believe the number of seagulls around. We saw these two fighting and they even kept fighting despite falling off the roof to the ground.

The seagulls had no fear- they even came right up to us.

Images of the items surrounding the main prison

We had such a great time with our friends and happy that we all managed to escape from the rock together.


Leah Claire said...

Cheryl--There's a great YA novel called "Al Capone Does My Shirts" that's about those families that lived on Alcatraz. It's a quick read and fun. :)

Brekke said...

I went to San Francisco once, but not Alcatraz. It looks really interesting.

Are you sure the Sea Gulls were fighting? Or were they "fighting"?

Cheryl and William said...

No, they really were fighting- we saw the other form of "fighting" as well but wanted to keep the blog PG