Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Escape to Alcatraz

I spent much of last weekend wandering the streets of San Francisco. While I was there, I had the opportunity to cruise San Francisco Bay in an old wooden fishing boat, and sail around the notorious federal prison on Alcatraz Island. Here are the photographic highlights:

The prison, which held some of America's most notorious criminals (including Al Capone) opened in 1934, and was closed in 1963, mainly due to the high cost of keeping inmates there.

You can feel the isolation of the place as you approach. Only a handful of prisoners are known to have escaped. According to the guide, most escapees were shot before they made it to the fence, and the few who did make it were likely swept out to sea by the strong current in San Francisco Bay.

Not all of Alcatraz's buildings were used for prison purposes. According to the guide, this old ruin was once a storehouse during the California gold rush in the mid-19th century.

The guards were very worried about escape attempts by boat, so they fired warning shots if any vessel got within 200 yards of the island. I suppose this sign was considered fair warning: