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Alcatraz Tour
Too cheap to pay for the Alcatraz tour? Maybe you missed a couple of historical markers on The Rock. Alcatraz Island is a National Historic Landmark located in San Francisco Bay.

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1st Escape

lat:37.82663
lng:-122.42367

1st-escape-779

On April 27, 1936, a guard tower stood on these concrete pylons. As officers watched, inmate Joseph Bowers burned garbage in the incinerator straight ahead. Suddenly, Bowers went for the fence, made it over the top, and became the first federal prisoner to attempt escape from Alcatraz. When he ignored warnings from the guards, he was shot and killed.

National Historical Marker - Alcatraz

lat:37.82647
lng:-122.42122

National-historical-marker-alcatraz-781

Alcatraz Island has been designated a National Historic Landmark
This site possesses national significance in commemorating the history of the United States of America
1986
National Park Service
United States Department of the Interior

City Skyline

lat:37.8261
lng:-122.4224

City-skyline-774

On a clear day or night, the view of San Francisco from Alcatraz is surely one of the world's most beautiful cityscapes. Some inmates wanted none of it - seeing the free world so close, and yet so out of reach, was too painful. However, more than one convict lost his life trying to make it to the city and to freedom.

The Agave Trail

lat:37.82628
lng:-122.42072

The-agave-trail-782

Made possible with the generous support of the Golden Gate National Park Association and the California State Coastal Conservancy, in partnership with the National Park Service.

Indian Occupation 1969-1971

lat:37.82620
lng:-122.42227

Indian-occupation-1969-1971-6683

In 1969, six years after the penitentiary closed, a group of American Indians claimed Alcatraz for "Indians of All Tribes." For almost 19 months they occupied the island to call attention to the plight of Native Americans and make a stand for native peoples' fundamental right to their cultural identities.

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Sea Birds

lat:37.82660
lng:-122.42368

Sea-birds-6687

The rocky cliffs here are home to hundreds of sea birds. You might see cormorants, pigeon guillemots, black oyster-catchers, or others. The nests they build on the steep cliff face keep their eggs safe from predators.

When explorers first arrived here in 1775, they saw so many birds on this island that they named it La Isla de los Alcatraces, or "Island of the Pelicans."

Western Gull

lat:37.82648
lng:-122.42168

Western-gull-780

In summer, this empty concrete yard is crowded with the nests and chicks of western gulls. The air is filled with the fierce cries of protective parent birds. Each year, the gulls build more than 450 nests on Alcatraz Island.

It's a raucous scene rarely equaled so close to the world of people. To see such colonies of nesting birds, you usually have to sail to isolated islands.

A Changing Landscape

lat:37.82778
lng:-122.42388

A-changing-landscape-6684

Five hundred years ago, the landscape of Alcatraz Island consisted only of bare sandstone, a few sparse grasses, and a coating of guano.

Most of the plants you see today were brought to the island for landscaping, erosion control, or formal gardens. As plants began to cover the island, birds and other wildlife arrived to take advantage of the changing landscape.

Exercise Yard

lat:37.826866000674954
lng:-122.42337942123413

Exercise-yard-778

Mortuary

lat:37.82732
lng:-122.42348

Alcatraz Lighthouse

lat:37.82622
lng:-122.4225

Alcatraz-lighthouse-773

Alcatraz's original lighthouse (below) was lit in 1854, when California's gold fields were drawing fortune-seekers from around the world. It was the first operating lighthouse on the West Coast. Today's lighthouse, which replaced the original one in 1909, has been guiding vessels through the Golden Gate and around the Rock since then.

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Family Housing

lat:37.82685
lng:-122.42222

Family-housing-770

Like any small town, Alcatraz had its more and less-desirable neighborhoods. Throughout the penitentiary era, new guards and their families lived in this building, and most couldn't wait to get out and move into newer staff quarters.

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Giftshop at The Dock

lat:37.82678
lng:-122.42133

Giftshop-at-the-dock-764

Guard Tower

lat:37.82703
lng:-122.42222

Guard-tower-768

Industrial and Laundry Buildings

lat:37.82803
lng:-122.42465

Industrial-and-laundry-buildings-767

Lower Military Prison

lat:37.8271
lng:-122.42242

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During the Civil War, Confederate sympathizers, political prisoners, deserters, and other army convicts were sent to Alcatraz. This marked the beginning of the island's evolution from fort to prison. After the war's end, the post was pressed to take an increasing number of military prisoners, forcing construction of temporary cell houses and other facilities. A cluster of structures alongside this road was called the "Lower Prison."

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Military Parade Ground

lat:37.82612
lng:-122.42197

Military-parade-ground-775

Between 1873 and 1876, military prisoners cut into the island's gently sloping southern tip and created the plateau below. We now call the concrete slab the "Parade Ground." The leveled area was used for a variety of purposes over the years: gun batteries, a military drill field, temporary cell houses for the fort's growing prisoner population, and even a playground for the children who lived on Alcatraz.

Officers' Club

lat:37.8276
lng:-122.42327

Officers-club-765

When Alcatraz became a federal penitentiary, this building was dubbed the "Officer's Club." Soon known by island residents as the "Social Hall," it was used by prison staff and their families for parties, dances, and other sorts of recreation. They performed skits and watched movies, bowled, played pool, and visited at the soda fountain. For three decades, until the penitentiary closed in 1963, this was the center of the island's social scene.

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Officers' Row

lat:37.82673
lng:-122.42237

Officers-row-772

Quartermaster Warehouse and Power Plant

lat:37.82803
lng:-122.42423

Quartermaster-warehouse-and-power-plant-766

Staff Housing

lat:37.82613
lng:-122.42193

Staff-housing-776

Warden's House

lat:37.82617
lng:-122.42192

Wardens-house-777

Although the author has taken all reasonable care in preparing this guide, Mapicurious and the author make no warranty about the accuracy or completeness of its content and accept no responsibility for any loss, injury, or inconvenience arising from its use.