Is it still worth visiting Alcatraz? This is a question we are often asked as a tour operator. Yes! It is still worth visiting but due to the safety measures, all buildings including the Main Cell House are temporarily closed to public access. In this blog, we will be covering the reasons why you should still visit Alcatraz Island during the pandemic.
This island in the heart of San Francisco Bay, one of the world’s most beautiful cities, has been used for a fort, a lighthouse, and a prison. There is so much to learn about Alcatraz’s history: from daily life back in time to El ‘’Scarface’’ Capone and Robert Stroud, the Birdman of Alcatraz.
After having your temperature checked at the entrance, your ticket will be scanned, and your Alcatraz journey will start. You can begin to discover the history of Alcatraz while you wait outside for the vessel to board. Outside, there is a 3D map which you can use to plan your stops when you arrive on the island. This map gives a good overview of Alcatraz Island.
During your boat ride, you go up to the top deck and to see San Francisco in a panoramic way. From the deck, you can also get great photo of the island. The boat ride usually takes 10-15 mins and we suggest spending about 1.5 or 2 hours walking around all spots and make your way to the deck to visit Alcatraz Store.
A free Alcatraz Audio Tour can help you discover more about the history. As you can listen to many personal stories, you can also get an insider view. This application can be downloaded from Google Play Store or App Store and only works when you arrive on the island. History awaits! Scroll through and read about some of the must-see outdoor spots at Alcatraz Island.
This club was the most important socializing area on the island, it was also called Social Hall where the island residents had parties, special events, dances until the prison closed in 1963.
Diamond T Fire Engine
This fire truck arrived on the island in 1934 and was unfortunately used many times. Once a large pile of towels caught on fire in the laundry unit of the New Industries Building. This fire truck raced to the flames and stopped the fire.
This place used to serve Military Guards as Barracks then converted to Penitentiary Apartment House in 1934. During the penitentiary years, this place was used as a living place for the new guards and their families.
Model Industries Building
This building had a laundry room where inmates could work for money. This laundry room larger than most in order to meet all needs of the military bases in the Bay Area.
To keep the island well-governed, a power plant was must build. Completed in 1912 this power plant generated the required energy for the island and even powered the pumps that provided the essential water need.
Required labor was mostly provided by unexperienced inmates. Many of those who helped build the cell house became the first prisoners to live in it.
Light House and Administrative Building
While you walk around these spots, you will notice some signs regarding the bird species of the island. Since Alcatraz is an important nesting site for many native bird species, including the Western Gull, Black-crowned Night Heron, and Brandt’s Cormorant.
Here is an area of birds:
Both military and penitentiary year commanders & Bureau of Prison wardens stayed in the Warden’s house to command the island. During the prison years of Alcatraz, Warden House was known for its colorful plants and a greenhouse attached to one side of the house. One of the trusted inmates got opportunities to serve the warden’s family and took care of the garden.
Even prisoners gardened at Alcatraz island. Elliot Michener, a prisoner, won the trust of guards after returning a missing key. For nine years he took charge of the gardens by ordering bulbs and seeds to build a greenhouse. Michener, also built a tool shed the accompany the garden. The flowering terraces, rose beds and other plants grew for many years.
Before leaving the island, you can visit the gift shop and purchase items or even books related to the escape attempts and more.
There is so much to see and hear about the history of Alcatraz. You will have many chances to get lost in the fog of its myths. We covered some of the must-see outdoor spots of the Alcatraz island in this blog, if you are looking for information about visiting Alcatraz check out our other blog post here.
Did you know that you can combine different sightseeing activities with Alcatraz? Click here to check out Alcatraz packages.
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