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This is it! I've given up work -retired from the rat race and am about to start on a 10 year adventure, doing all those things I've been meaning to do but never had the time to do them. I've offloaded my responsibilities and it is now my time. So follow my adventures and see whether I actually manage anything!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Day 2 San Francisco

Today we had booked a trip to Alcatraz. The island is in the middle of San Francisco Bay and is now a national parkland with historic gardens and bird colonies, but its main attraction of course is the prison. The maximum security federal penitentiary open from 1934 - 63.
It takes just 30 mins to cross too the island by ferry. It was foggy this morning but I liked the misty views of the San Franciscan skyline.

We could soon see the prison with the lighthouse towering above the cell block.

Once we landed we were shown a video about the island and given an audio tour which was included in the price. Not a fan of audio tours but this was excellent and was partly narrated by inmates.

This was where the prisoners began life on Alcatraz. After showering the inmates collected their prison issue clothing. Once dressed in their 'Alcatraz blues' the convicts were marched to the cells on the floor above.

There are four free standing cell blocks. The complex was built by military prisoners in 1911 and could hold 390 prisoners. Alcatraz was never filled to capacity with the average number of inmates held here being 260.

This is the cell showing  the ventilation shaft below the sink which was enlarged to allow the prisoners to escape. The prisoners who escaped this way were never found.

During its time as a prison 36 prisoners tried to escape.  23 were recaptured, six were shot and killed, two drowned and five are listed as missing presumed drowned.

This was the warden's house. Before it was burnt down in 1970 it had 17 rooms and views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline. Many other officers and their families also lived on the island with the children travelling daily by ferry to school in San Francisco.

Kitchen and mess roomn

Prisoners spent between 16 and 23 hours in their cells but some through good behaviour were able to use the exercise yard. It was completely enclosed with no views of the bay.

The laundry - Al Capone's place of work.

The gardens were built and maintained by the inmates. Eventually every area within sight of the guard towers was terraced and planted.

On returning to the mainland we walked to Chinatown to explore that area.

Grant Street is a very long street in the heart of Chinatown and is full of interesting architecture.

Interesting fruits


  1. Never did get to Alcatraz. What I remember about Chinatown was the persistent panhandlers. Did you encounter any?

  2. Love San Francisco ~ Loved Chinatown and others areas ~ Wonderful photos of Alcatraz and Chinatown ~ hope you rode the cable cars ~ fun! ~ thanks,

    Wishing you a fun week ~ thanks ~ ^_^

  3. San Francisco is one of my favorite cities, although I could never afford to live there. Nice shots of Alcatraz!

  4. The Alcatraz gardens are very nice. Chinatown is interesting with some good murals and I bet it is quite chaotic at ground level.

  5. I lived in Sacramento for years and we'd go to San Francisco for the day. We never went to Alcatraz but I knew much about it from books and movies. Thanks for the tour! :-)

  6. Wonderful shots from the city. Nice variety.

  7. So you made it to San Francisco did you wear a flower in your hair. You must remember the flower power era as much as I do. Nice tour of Alcatraz, bit more elaborate that the one I visited in Reading

  8. Those prisons always gives me the creeps. Chinatown looks far more interesting!

  9. The escape story was one of the best Myth Busters episodes. Nice post.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  10. Simply fascinating. I'll bet the prisoners allowed to do the gardening thought it to be better that 23 hours in a cell. Best behaviour time to get that perk!

  11. Amazing tour. I just finished a novel that dealt with prison life. The brutal environment on Alcatraz had to be hell. A place for the most violent of our society. I guess they deserved to be there.

  12. I've visited Alcatraz twice and really enjoyed it both times. And San Fran's Chinatown is a fascinating place. We visited a tiny place that made fortune cookies.

  13. I've never been to either place.... I've seen movies and documentaries about Alcatraz...

    I've seen pictures of Chinatown... Interesting place, I'm sure.


  14. Interesting that Alcatraz was never filled beyond capacity. I'm sure many of our prisons can't say the same

  15. I am still coughing over the price of a single trolley ride!! I guess it has been a long time since I was there.! Great city and good excerise walking up and down those hills. I am enjoying these posts.

  16. That was a great day. We toured Alcatraz on the trip with all four kids, so I really don't remember it very well (too busy making sure nobody got left in a cell probably).... we should have gone back on our subsequent visits with just the two of us. Chinatown we love and have visited it every time we've been there.

  17. You packed a lot of things into that day. China Town is fascinating. I haven't been to Alcatraz and it's on my list. (That dreaming one in my head ....)

  18. I have a picture of Mr. G in Al'Capone's cell ! It looks far better on your pictures than it looked 20 years ago !


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