Originally posted at Iantha's Ink on 08/24/2012
So we did the Night Tour of Alcatraz, my Daughter specifically wanted a nigh tour as she had heard that it was better than a day tour, you got to see more. We got to the pier at 6:45 just as our boat was getting ready to leave, lucky I had prepurchased the tickets so all we had to do was pickup and run to the boat. I love the ride on the bay, actually I like being on the water anytime but it was a bit cold. When they tell you that San Francisco is not warm like you tend to picture California, they are not lying. It was very much like late fall weather, low 50s to mid 60s. On the water it was colder, felt more like early winter, with a strong wind. Still I loved the water.
Alcatraz island was used for many things in its long history. Our tour guide said that the American Indians would visit the island but did not live on it. They refered to it as the island of strange birds.
The island received its name in 1775 when Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala charted the San Francisco Bay, and named this tiny speck of land La Isla de los Alcatraces, which translated to "Island of the Pelicans." I won't give a history lesson just a few comments on some of the pictures, indepth history information can be found here http://www.alcatrazhistory.com/rs1.htm
Island of Strange Birds, here are some of the pictures of the birds that I was able to take. I only saw seagulls.
Alcatraz became a military prison during the Civil War and a Federal Prison in 1934.
Guards could have their families live on the island with them. The children would take a ferry to school each day.
One of the benefits of the night tour is that it is not as crowded, only Alcatraz tours holds the night tours and only two tours so the number of people is quite small compared to the day. At the night tour you also get to see the cell slam. A ranger showed us the mechanism that controls the cell doors and opens and closes them several times. The prisoners lived in a 6 x9x7 foot room and the only time they heard the cell doors six times a day. The opening of the doors for meals was their only taste of what freedom they had, to go eat, if on good behavior they might get to go work or get a book from the library or have rec time in the yard. At night lock down was the slaming of the cell doors which would drive home each and every night that they were not free, that the rest of society did not want them, that they did not belong.