Around Alcatraz Island

We of course all know Alcatraz as that island on which Nicholas Cage and Sean Connery saved us all from the evil Ed Harris. The Rock as it’s commonly known in both the movies and real life sits proudly in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Initially home to flocks of birds, it was first populated by our encroaching selves as a fort and then of course was turned into a federal prison and now acts as a strange choice of tourist destination. “Ooooh mammy can we go see where evil murders and criminals were housed? Oh please, oh please, oh pretty please?”. A little odd right?

But we “normal” citizens have always had an eerie fascination with those on the other side of the law. We know they’re bad people and have done terrible things but television shows such as Breaking Bad have fought to make us feel for these characters. And the same can be said on Alcatraz, where former prisoners now act as guides,  posing for pictures with families and children.

There’s two ways to view Alcatraz….on it looking out at the beauty of the bay…..or off it, looking towards its imposing structures, guard towers and crumbling ruins. Before we set foot on the same ground as Nicholas Cage (What an honour), we took a boat trip around it a few days beforehand. The main pier is hidden from view if you’re in downtown San Francisco, along with the majority of smaller buildings on the island. So it’s worth taking the trip out to see the full show, as it were.


A yacht calmly cruises past Alcatraz in waters that can prove most treacherous to sailors.
The view coming back from the Golden Gate Bridge with San Francisco and the Oakland Bay Bridge behind.
As you draw nearer to the island, the intricacies of its various outbuildings become more apparent.
Pulling away from the Island with the Golden Gate Bridge majestic as always in the background.
The queue to board one of the Alcatraz ferries. It moved fairly quickly and the whole operation is well run by the National Parks Authority.
You’re about as useful as a one legged man in an arse kicking contest.
The interior seats aboard the ferry that were quickly snapped up by those with a discomfort of hydrogen and oxygen, particularly when combined.
The OCD person in me wanted to climb up and fix that flag. The sane person in me, politely punched them in the groin and I remained where I stood.
The city in the clouds.
The Coit Tower licking the lower edge of the fog.
I thought this 80’s office block looked a little out of place.
Travelling in style.
So many tourists…
You can partially see the beautifully kept gardens here. Much more impressive close up.
The Oakland Bay Bridge peeks out from behind the Southern tip of Alactraz.
I like this view of the island, looks like a nice island resort…..kinda.
The stereotypical view of Alcatraz from Fisherman’s Wharf.
Good luck escaping the sight of guards in this tower.
The huge water tower which housed the island’s fresh water supply.
The ruined buildings come into view as you round the Northern tip of the island.
The Model Industries Building where inmates used to attend workshops.
Many of the sea facing buildings have fallen into ruin and disrepair.
The lighthouse on Alcatraz is the first one built on the West coast of the United States.
You can almost see the Indian graffiti on the water tower here. After the Island ceased its function as a federal prison, native Americans demanded it be returned to them.
Unnecessary Sign.
Alcatraz from the South East.

In the next blog post, we’ll be stepping ashore and exploring the island. Ooooooooooooooooh.

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