Jail Island, Alcatraz
A visitor drives in the city of San Francisco. Drive north from the Union Square area towards Fisherman’s Wharf, taking Leavenworth Street. Around the place where Leavenworth meets Lombard Street at the top of the hill, the road starts to go downhill. In front of your windshield, at the bottom of your view, you are now looking at the northern part of San Francisco Bay. You will see an island, shaped like a huge warship, with one sharp, steep side, rising directly from the ocean’s surface.
You are looking at Alcatraz Island, “Jail Island” in the San Francisco Bay.
Many have known the name “Alcatraz” from movies and. It is the world famous jail island. The island had an unusual shape as mentioned. Both edges of the island are not sloped. They are sharp and steep cliffs. It also looked like a huge ship. It gives the viewer the immediate impression that it is a huge “Battleship”. Other than its unusual shape, in the bright California sun it did not look like a jail at all.
Furthermore, the island seemed too close to Fisherman’s Wharf to be “an inescapable jail island”. If you’re a swimmer who can swim 2-3 miles, you might think you could swim to the island.
Alcatraz Island is located in the northern part of San Francisco Bay, between Fisherman’s Wharf and Marine County. It’s so close to Fisherman’s Wharf that almost everyone wonders if it’s the infamous prison island, which people call inescapable. A good swimmer would be able to swim the distance, if he was prepared in water temperature with diving suits and guarded by an emergency rescue boat. It was a couple of years ago, a 6 year old could swim from Alcatraz to Fisherman’s Wharf.
So why is this jail island impossible? Talking to some people, there are several different answers. The water is too cold to continue swimming the distance without protection from body temperature. San Francisco Bay looks calm on the surface. There is a violent tide deep in the ocean. Change direction very often. No bather can be free from the influence of this violent tide. Swimming at night is almost killing yourself. Man-eating sharks are especially active at night. Many of these may be true. All of these factors are working together to prevent the prisoners from escaping from Alcatraz.
No one escaped Alcatraz alive during its history as a jail island in official records.
Ferries to Alcatraz leave from Pier 33. If you are staying in San Francisco and expecting to visit Alcatraz, you must select the day of the week and make a reservation 3-5 days before your scheduled visit date. Tickets on weekends are usually sold out for the next 2-3 weeks. In the ferry boarding area, there are displays of notorious criminals incarcerated at Alcatraz, including Al Capone.
Travel time on the ferry from Alcatraz Island to Alcatraz is incredibly short. It takes no more than 15 minutes to get to the island. Even there is not enough time to enjoy the views of the San Francisco city area or the Golden Gate Bridge, even though there is a magnificent view over them, as it is the best boat trip to see the city of San Francisco. , Marine County and East. Bay.
We are now free to explore Alcatraz since the jail was closed by the federal government, and it is now part of Golden Gate National Park. For the criminals sent to Alcatraz, it meant “Death Sentence” to them. In the shuttle boarding area, right next to the picture of Al Capone, an image of a graffiti on the wall of an unknown prisoner reads: “You will be sent to jail if you break the law. If you break a rule in jail , you will be sent to Alcatraz.” . One can feel the sob of a prisoner in his cell. My Japanese friend commented on my blog once. “It’s exciting to get a glimpse of the infamous jail island without committing a crime.” The simple crime is not enough to be sent to Alcatraz. One needs to commit an Al Capone-level crime to be sent there.
It’s part of Golden Gate National Park, so the rule is “Don’t bring anything, don’t bring anything except littering and souvenir shopping.” As soon as they arrive at the main gate of the jail, visitors will hear a 10-minute explanation of the history of Alcatraz and the rules of visitation. You should now be ready to enter the jail chamber.
All they have inside the island is Jail Building. The white hospital looking building is building for the jail facilities. Apart from that, there are some small houses for the guardians and the family of the guardians lived. Upon entering the jail building, visitors will visit the shower room first. It may be the first place the prisoners went when they were sent to Alcatraz. Here, visitors can rent a storytelling unit that tells the stories of Alcatraz as they walk the island. A translated narration unit is available for Japanese, Chinese, and many European languages.
Now let’s walk to the center of the cell area. There are small cells on both sides of a not-so-wide hallway. They are individual cells for prisoners. They are incredibly small. Cells lined up next to each other and on three floors. The ceiling of each cell is low. It looks so small that if you stretch out your arms, both of your hands touch the walls. The living environment of the animals in the zoo looks much better than this. It wouldn’t take more than 3 days to drive a normal person completely crazy if they keep living in a place like this.
Now the visitors stand in front of a black board hanging in the upper part of the Dining Room. It is the menu placed at the top of the entrance to the dining room. The board showed the day’s breakfast. “Assorted Dry Cereals”, “Stewed Whole Wheat”, “1 Scrambled Egg”, “2 Milks”, “Stewed Fruit”, and “Toast”. The top of the board displayed “March 21, 1963.” His breakfast on March 21, 1963 did not seem miserable.
There is a window that looks like a submarine or warship window in the corner of a corridor. There is some history. This is the window through which the inmates can look out. What they could see was the city of San Francisco. It is not only through this window, but the prisoners can have a clear view of the city of San Francisco. During the festive season, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc., the prisoners could see the city dressed up with lights, fireworks and could even hear people partying, singing, dancing, laughing and enjoying themselves.
It would have been unbearable torture for the prisoners who could feel, feel, look and hear the free people outside, enjoying the festive occasions. They must have wanted to close their eyes, cover their ears. They could still feel what was happening on the other side of the Bay. How horrible it was. What cruel torture human beings can do to other human beings even if they are criminals!
History shows that there were many escape attempts from Alcatraz. The official record indicates “34 escape attempts, 7 dead, 2 drowned, 5 disappeared and 20 arrested.” Among the missing were “Frank Morris” and the Anglin brothers as depicted in the movie “Escape from Alcatraz”. Frank Morris was sent to Alcatraz in 1960. He planned and attempted his prison break in 1962 with John Anglin, Clarence Anglin, and Allen West. They built a raft. They made their own dolls. Put them in their beds. They continued digging to escape for 2 years. They put their plan into action on June 11, 1962. Allen West arrived late and was unable to join the breakout.
The FBI began the search immediately, but they were unable to find them. They couldn’t find their bodies either. All they found was a part of their raft, bags of Anglins, and some other belongings of the fugitives. The FBI and Alcatraz authorities decided that they drowned and died. The federal government decided to close Alcatraz prison about 1 year after this breakout.
Another important figure on Alcatraz is the Warden and Officers on Alcatraz. Showroom on Alcatraz displays the mannequin of the officer on Alcatraz that he used to be. They lived on the island with their family. Across the street from the jail building, there are ruins of individual houses of the wardens and officers. Higher class officers could live in a separate house. Now, if someone wanted houses like these with a great view of the San Francisco skyline, he might have had to spend more than $1 million.
In addition, their children attended schools in San Francisco on the other side of the bay. They took ferries every morning and afternoon to attend their schools. Compared to the inmates, life for the officers might not have been so miserable. However, life for officers in prisons and jails was not easy. It could be just as destructive as the prisoners. They need to be strained days and nights. If something happens, the officers must fight for their lives. The prisoners are not friendly with them. They must be tough on the inmates. Jail island made life difficult for all related people.
Cut off from outside society, this island had its own functions. They had their own firefighting unit. There is a preserved fire truck on the island that silently recounts the days when the island was still a jail.