What types of sharks are there in the vicinity of Alcatraz

Alcatraz - Prison Island in San Francisco Bay

The ex Alcatraz Prison Island is now a museum and one of the most famous and most visited attractions in San Francisco. The Rock is located in the Bay of San Francisco, less than 2 kilometers from the coast.

When the 1996 Hollywood flick "The Rock - Rock of Decision ”with Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris flickered over the big screen, our interest in prison island, the escape-proof maximum security prison, was already aroused Alcatraz in which so many world-famous gangsters like Al Capone, Machine Gun Kelly or Erich Gimpel are settled.

And then it was finally time. The tickets for Alcatraz we booked on the internet before we left. The ticket contingent for the weekend was already fully booked at this point, so we decided on Monday. The ticket price of $ 30 (as of 08/2015) includes the ferry crossing and entry to the prison. Make sure to book early, the tickets are often sold out 2-3 months in advance.

Alcatraz Cruises - Ferry to Prison Island

We parked near Fisherman's Wharf at Wharf Garage Lot # 34. The daily fee is $ 20 during the week. Our tour started at Pier 33 at 1:30 p.m. As we slowly left the harbor with the ferry, you got a great view of the San Francisco skyline and also to the ever closer prison island. Shortly after the departure, an icy wind came up and we took a seat inside the ferry.

History of Alcatraz

In 1854, the first lighthouse on the US west coast was put into operation on Alcatraz. The island was then used as a location for a fortified fort, into which a prison was integrated as early as 1861. It was completely rebuilt in the early 1930s and was one of the most famous and notorious maximum security prisons in the United States from 1934 to 1963. In 1963 the prison was closed due to the exorbitant operating costs.

The island is now one of the largest tourist attractions in San Francisco and, as a museum, is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area under the supervision of theUS National Park Service.

Welcome to Alcatraz

On Alcatraz When we arrived it was time to wrap up warm, sweaters and windcheaters were the order of the day. The Miss Classy ears are very sensitive to wind and cold, so a scarf was tied around the head without further ado. Looked funny, but always better than an ear infection. A headband or hat is even recommended.

At the pier, a National Park Service ranger gives a brief introduction to the history of Alcatraz. Then you can explore the entire island on your own.

For us, the first thing we did was head straight for the cell wing to do the audio tour there. We had to queue up briefly to get the headphones, the tour is available in many different languages, including German. The friendly employees set the desired language when handing over the device and then off we go: Former inmates and guards tell the story of the legendary prison in San Francisco Bay. And we were really excited about it - exciting, authentic, unique!

Here the big gangsters, like Al Capone, were locked up in cells measuring 1.52 x 2.74 meters. The furnishings were sparse, there was only a washbasin, a toilet and a bed.

Attempts to escape

34 prisoners tried to escape from the maximum security prison in 14 escape attempts. However, there has been no known successful outbreak. 25 refugees were caught alive, six shot while trying to escape, five refugees have disappeared to this day and probably drowned in the cold sea. That the waters around the island would be teeming with man-eating sharks was just a deterrent rumor.

Three inmates and two prison guards were killed in May 1946 in the "Battle of Alcatraz". Six convicts had taken several guards hostage, but these were overpowered after several days of negotiations. On June 11, 1962, inmates Frank Morris and the two brothers John and Clarence Anglin disappeared from their cells. She was able to dig a hole through the walls, which were badly damaged by salt and moisture, with the help of cutlery that had been smuggled into the cells, and then got outside through the ventilation shaft on the roof of the cell block. Using a rubber dinghy made by themselves from raincoats and glue, they dared to cross into freedom. The escape was only noticed the next morning. The FBI investigation, completed in 1979, concluded that the fugitives had drowned. However, the bodies themselves were never found.

In December of the same year there was another attempt to escape. The bank robber John Paul Scott swam through the icy water for over an hour with the help of inflated rubber gloves. He was found half frozen on the mainland. After the resuscitation, he was brought back to the island.

The reputation as an escape-proof prison was thus shaken again. The horrendous operating costs and the heavily damaged building structure recently led to the closure of The Rockon March 21, 1963.

Tips, interesting facts and travel recommendations

  • Tickets for Alcatraz book online early. The contingent is quickly booked out, especially on weekends. The price for an adult is $ 37.25 (as of 12/2017)
  • Take warm clothes with you! Even if San Francisco is nice and warm, you will notice the cool wind when you leave the port on the ferry at the latest. It can quickly be 10 ° C cooler than San Francisco. Even in summer, you should definitely take a windbreaker with you, and those with sensitive ears also have a headband or hat.
  • In order to be able to explore the entire island and all buildings you should plan at least 3 hours
  • Children and young people (under 18 years of age) are only allowed to go to the prison island when accompanied by an adult.
  • Animals, with the exception of guide dogs, are not allowed on Alcatraz.
  • The Audio tour of Alcatraz is an absolute highlight! These are available in countless languages.

Related Links

You can find an overview of the complete route of our road trip on the west coast here:

More articles about our trip to the US West Coast:

Photo credit: Mister Classy Photography