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Roadtrip USA: Alcatraz Night Tour

... a spooky experience

Having scored tickets for the Alcatraz night tour a few weeks ago, we headed to Fisherman’s Wharf and the piers in the afternoon. We had a whole Dungeness Crab at Pier Market Restaurant on Pier 39. A messy, but delicious feast.

Pier 39 flags

Pier 39 flags

Pier 39

Pier 39

Marina at Pier 39

Marina at Pier 39

Seafood Market at Pier 39

Seafood Market at Pier 39

Seafood Market at Pier 39

Seafood Market at Pier 39

Whole Garlic Dungeness Crab

Whole Garlic Dungeness Crab

At 6:30 PM the ferry to Alcatraz island departed from Pier 33. The ride was relaxed, as they only allow a limited number of people on the night tour to make it a more intimate experience. Only on the night tour they go around the island, instead of taking the direct route.

Alcatraz Island west side

Alcatraz Island west side

Alcatraz main prison buildings

Alcatraz main prison buildings

Alcatraz from the east side

Alcatraz from the east side

Welcome to Alcatraz...

Welcome to Alcatraz…

Alcatraz Guard Tower

Alcatraz Guard Tower

Guard housing

Guard housing

On the island, a host escorted us to the start of the cell house audio tour. She told us some stories about the island along the way. For example kids living on Alcatraz could bring over friends from school for the night, which made them really popular among their classmates. The audio tour took 45 minutes and told really interesting stories about life in Alcatraz, the Battle of Alcatraz and the Escape from Alcatraz.

Open shower area

Open shower area

Single cells

Single cells

3 storeys of cells

3 storeys of cells

3 storeys of cells

3 storeys of cells

Utilities corridor between the cells

Utilities corridor between the cells

Sunset on Alcatraz island

Sunset on Alcatraz island

Inmates  who disobeyd the rules of Alcatraz were sent to D block and locked away in complete darkness.

D Block solitary confinement cell

D Block solitary confinement cell

D Block solitary confinement cells

D Block solitary confinement cells

The worst incident at Alcatraz was the battle of Alcatraz. 6 prisoners planned to escape. They first overpowered the guard downstairs, who never carried a weapon. Then Bernard Coy climbed up the gun gallery and spread the bars to owerpower the totally surprised armes guard. They then held six guards hostage in two cells. Their attempt ultimately failed, because they couldn’t get a key to open the door to freedom and eventually the alarm sirens took off. The next day Marines ended the escape attempt. Read more on Wikipedia.

Spreading the bars at the Battle of Alcatraz

Spreading the bars at the Battle of Alcatraz

Gun Gallery ... here Bernard Coy climbed up and spread the bars

Gun Gallery … here Bernard Coy climbed up and spread the bars

Cell where guards were held hostage

Cell where guards were held hostage

Rope to exchange keys between the guard downstairs and the gun gallery

Rope to exchange keys between the guard downstairs and the gun gallery

Granade marks from the Battle of Alcatraz

Granade marks from the Battle of Alcatraz

Cells in Alcatraz were all single cells with a size of around 4 square meters. They had a bed, a toilet, a sink, a table and a shelf. Privileges like reading or painting had to be earned.

Standard cell at Alcatraz

Standard cell at Alcatraz

Standard cell at Alcatraz

Standard cell at Alcatraz

Standard cell at Alcatraz

Standard cell at Alcatraz

Inmates could plug into the radio programme

Inmates could plug into the radio programme

Standard cell at Alcatraz

Standard cell at Alcatraz

Visitor hole ... two visits a month were permitted

Visitor hole … two visits a month were permitted

Guard office

Guard office

View of San Francisco

View of San Francisco

At the infamous Escape of Alcatraz, which was made into a film with Clint Eastwood, three inmates digged a whole into the concrete wall with spoons and built realistic fake heads. They then escaped through the utility corridor, over the roof into freedom. They used some raincoats as a boat. They were never seen again and were likely killed by trying to pass the freezing cold bay of San Francisco.

Escape from Alcatraz through the utilities corridor

Escape from Alcatraz through the utilities corridor

Escape from Alcatraz through the utilities corridor

Escape from Alcatraz through the utilities corridor

Escape from Alcatraz through the utilities corridor

Escape from Alcatraz through the utilities corridor

Cell blocks in the dark

Cell blocks in the dark

Dinner was served in a large Dining Room. In case of a riot the held two large containers of tear gas, which luckily never had to be used. There was one riot taking place when inmates were tired of dry spaghetti. It was ended quickly by 3 shotgun shots of one guard and the blow of a whistle.

Dining menu

Breakfast menu

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen

Tear gas tanks

Tear gas tanks

X Ray station

X Ray station

Ambulance station

Ambulance station

Main prison building at night

Main prison building at night

View of the sunset

View of the sunset

Moonrise from Alcatraz

Moonrise from Alcatraz

Lit up city of San Francisco

Lit up city of San Francisco

Pretty cool experience and I would recommend taking the night tour. You can book ticket several weeks in advance on the official website.