Thursday, March 21, 2013

Escape To Alcatraz, Pt. 1

In San Francisco on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Walt Disney Family Museum is The Alcatraz Penitentiary. This may be hard to believe, but I enjoyed both "attractions" equally for very different reasons.

Approaching the island in our boat was something like a scene from "King Kong." You could see the decay, even from a distance, and with its notorious history of isolation, it gave off a very eerie vibe.

Beginning in late 1969, Alcatraz was occupied by Native Americans as a protest that echoed the 1626 purchase of Manhattan Island, even going so far as to offer to buy Alcatraz from the Federal Government for $24 in beads, colored cloth, and other trade goods. With a lack of supplies and long term supporters, the last few protestors were removed by federal agents =in June 1971. There are still signs of the occupation on the island.

Believe it or not, a Garden Tour is offered on Alcatraz. Despite the crumbling concrete and the fact that this was a prison facility, there are still areas of beauty that exist here.

Both employees and their families as well as the prisoners contributed to the gardens and landscaping of Alcatraz. It was an attempt to add life and meaning to what otherwise could have been a very sad existence.

Hard to believe that this natural pop of color cohabitates with the ghosts of the Island's past.

There's not much left of the Warden's House, but there are still glimpses of its former grandeur.

I was digging this Arts & Crafts fireplace:

My zoom lens was doing overtime trying to capture the details:

Even though San Francisco appears to be a short distance away, I was assured that typically a swim from the Island to SF would be enough to stop your heart.

There was quite a variety of plantings on the island including succulents:

Cala Lillies:

Acanthus leaves, the inspiration for the famous Greek columns:

The tour guide was wonderful, and the signage/brochures were extremely helpful.

Tomorrow: a tour INSIDE Alcatraz!

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K. Martinez said...

In the early 1970s, my 6th grade class won a book drive and the prize was a fieldtrip to Alcatraz. I loved it! Since then I've visited several times. It has one of the most unusual and best views of the City as well. Looking forward to the rest of your article.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. Is the Disney Family Museum on the same island as Alcatraz? You said it's on the opposite end from Alcatraz but I thought Alcatraz was by itself on an island in the bay. Why would they build a Disney museum on a prison island?

Daveland said...

K. - That sounds like such an odd prize...but I know I would have enjoyed it! Was the rest of the class excited?

Anonymous - Look up "spectrum" and then see if you are still confused.