A must do in San Francisco is definitely visiting Alcatraz. I recommend buying a ticket to the island at Pier 33. Don’t buy them somewhere else in the city because they will ask more. A standard ticket is 30 USD per person at Pier 33. The boat ride takes about 15 minutes from the pier to the island. From there you can wander around by yourself and pick up an audio tour to walk through the cell house of Alcatraz. An impressive and interesting tour while you learn more about the multiple escapes and the life in Alcatraz for prisoners and guards.
The Island of Alcatraz
Walk around the island to see the buildings that once were the houses for the guards and their families, electricity buildings and other maintenance houses.
The Cell house on Alcatraz
The cell house of Alcatraz is the most impressive part of the trip to Alcatraz. You enter the cell house where you get an audio tour for free. On the audio you can listen to stories and information about everything that happened on this small island.
Who tried to escape the prison, who succeeded and who didn’t, how did the guards live on such a small island online 1,5 mile away from the main land and much more.
The thing that interests me the most in a prison is the architectural structure of the building. When you look at the map of the prison or at these pictures, you can see that there is a clear canvas. There are only straight lines, every thing is designed in rectangles. This is because the prison is designed from the cells. Each cell has the same measurements and that’s why all the windows, walls and floors are in that same measurement through the cell house.
While you walk through the cell house you will reach the isolation cells. There were 5 isolations cells at Alcatraz and they look horrible. The door is so heavy and thick that it feels so scary to be in that room. You are almost afraid that someone will close the door behind you.
Some cells still have some personal belongings from prisoners to show you what they did and how they lived in the cells. Some of them painted pictures, read books, worked in the library or tried to dig their way out of the prison.
There have been a few escape attempts in Alcatraz but only one succeeded. Three prisoners hammered the wall of their cell for months until the opening was big enough to get through. Behind the cells is a maintenance room with a ladder that goes up to the roof. The prisoners reached the ladder and escaped via the roof. Before someone noticed the escape it was too late. The three prisoners already escaped by jumping on a selfmade canoe. No one knows if they survived the trip on their canoe to the mainland.
The view over San Francisco
The view from Alcatraz to the city is definitely a million dollar view. There is no place in San Francisco where you will have such a good view over the city.
Have you been to Alcatraz or any other prison and were you also impressed by the vibe you feel there?