Often referred to as "The Rock" the small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of Aboriginal Peoples from San Francisco who were part of a wave of Native activism across the nation with public protests through the 1970s. In 1972 Alcatraz became a national recreation area and received designation as a National Historic Landmark in 1986.
During the 29 years it was in use as a Federal Prison, the jail held some of the worst hoodlums America had ever known, such as Al Capone, Robert Franklin Stroud (the Birdman of Alcatraz), George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Bumpy Johnson, Rafael Cancel Miranda (a member of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party who attacked the United States Capitol building in 1954), Mickey Cohen, Arthur R. "Doc" Barker, James "Whitey" Bulger, and Alvin "Creepy" Karpis (who served more time at Alcatraz than any other inmate). It also provided housing for the Bureau of Prisons staff and their families.
During its 29 years of operation, the penitentiary claimed that no prisoner successfully escaped. A total of 36 prisoners made 14 escape attempts, two men trying twice; 23 were caught, six were shot and killed during their escape, two drowned, and five are listed as "missing and presumed drowned". The most violent occurred on May 2, 1946, when a failed escape attempt by six prisoners led to the Battle of Alcatraz. On June 11, 1962, Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin carried out one of the most intricate escapes ever devised. It was fascinating to tour the island prison and hear it's history and see how the prisoners lived. I hope the slide show of pictures gives you some idea of what a bleak place Alcatraz is.
After an interesting morning on Alcatraz we boarded the boat for our return journey and made our way to Pier 39 to sample some Chowder for lunch before making our way to fulfil another ambition of riding a cable car. The cable car ride was great fun and I managed to video our ride up and down the steep San Francisco streets to our destination, Union Square,where we walked round Macy's before getting a cab back to our hotel for a much needed rest before getting ready for our final dinner in San Francisco, which we enjoyed at Fisherman's Grotto.
I've put together a slide show of where we had lunch etc and the video of our cable car ride, I hope you enjoy them.
Cable Car Video