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.
At 6:30 PM the ferry to the 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.
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 onthe island 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 prison, the Battle of Alcatraz and the Escape from Alcatraz.
Inmates who disobeyd the rules were sent to D block and locked away in complete darkness.
The worst incident 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.
Cells 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.
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.
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.