San Francisco, CA – Alcatraz Island (HDR)

After many many visits to San Francisco I finally decided to take a tour of Alcatraz.   I used Alcatraz Criuses.  From the pier you have to take a ferry over to the island.  Once you buy a ticket (around $26) you wait in line for the next ferry to arrive or load.  It took me about 30 minutes to get on board.  Once on board it is 5-10 minute cruise to the island.  The ferry has drinks and food on board as Alcatraz only has souvenir stores.  When you arrive you meet at the entrance for a 5 minute meet and greet…rule and regulations speech.  Welcome the the Rock!!  Then you are on your own!

The main objective of the island is the jail cells.  From the pier it is a steep (very steep) 15 minute hike!  Beforehand they tell you it is like climbing a 13 story building.  With all my gear on my back…it wasn’t too bad.  I arrived and there were lots of people.  Luckily it was late afternoon and the last ferry was at 6:10 PM.  So I stuck around a bit and waited for the main cell area hallway to be clear…and this is the shot above.  It is kinda cool as it was my first trip ever to see a jail cell.  They give you headphones at the island if you want an audio tour.

It is a small place with only a few area to see as they keep you off most if the island due to wildlife.  It was fun seeing the famous inmates pics on the wall (from the web):

Robert Stroud, who was better known to the public as the “Birdman of Alcatraz,” was transferred to Alcatraz in 1942. He spent the next seventeen years on “the Rock” — six years in segregation in D Block, and eleven years in the prison hospital. In 1959 he was transferred to the Medical Center for Federal Prisoners in Springfield, Missouri (MCFP Springfield). Although called “The Birdman of Alcatraz,” Stroud was not allowed to keep birds while incarcerated there.

When Al Capone arrived on Alcatraz in 1934, prison officials made it clear that he would not be receiving any preferential treatment. While serving his time in Alcatraz, Capone, a master manipulator, had continued running his rackets from behind bars by buying off guards. “Big Al” generated incredible media attention while on Alcatraz though he served just four and a half years of his sentence there before developing symptoms of tertiary syphilis and being transferred to the Federal Correctional Institution at Terminal Island in Los Angeles.

George “Machine Gun” Kelly arrived on September 4, 1934. At Alcatraz, Kelly was constantly boasting about several robberies and murders that he had never committed. Although this was said to be an apparent point of frustration for several fellow prisoners, Warden Johnson considered him a model inmate. Kelly was returned to Leavenworth in 1951.

Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz arrived in 1936. He was not a model inmate, constantly fighting with other inmates. He also spent the longest time on Alcatraz island, serving nearly 26 years. He was sent to Alcatraz on convictions for worse crimes than any other inmate, though surprisingly he never once attempted an escape.

James “Whitey” Bulger spent 3 years on Alcatraz (1959–1962) while serving a sentence for bank robbery. While there, he became close to Clarence Carnes, also known as the Choctaw Kid.

Ellsworth Raymond “Bumpy” Johnson, the Godfather of Harlem, an African-American gangster, numbers operator, racketeer, bootlegger, in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood in the early 20th century. He was sent to Alcatraz in 1954 and was imprisoned until 1963. It is believed that he was involved in the famous escape that became legend involving Frank Morris, John and Clarence Anglin.

Mickey Cohen worked for the Mafia’s gambling rackets and was charged with tax evasion and sentenced to 15 years in Alcatraz Island. Two years into his sentence an inmate clobbered Mickey with a lead pipe, partially parallelizing the mobster. On his release in 1972, Mickey returned to live a quiet life with his old friends.

Arthur R. “Doc” Barker the son of Ma Barker and a member of the Barker-Karpis gang along with Alvin Karpis. In 1935, Barker was sent to Alcatraz Island on conspiracy to kidnap charges. On the night of January 13, 1939, Barker with Henri Young and Rufus McCainattempted escape from Alcatraz. The attempt failed and Barker was shot and killed by the guards.

The history is great.  I’ll have more shots soon.  So was it worth the 3 hours and $26.00?  Hmmm…not so sure.  To me it was kinda a been there done that visit.  Not great, but something to see and do if you have time or are interested.  I did not run into Sean Connery….oh well!

Talke Photography Settings:

  • Camera:  Nikon D300
  • Lens: Nikon 12-24 f/4.0
  • Setting: Aperture  Mode
  • Focal Length: 12.0mm
  • ISO: 200
  • Exposure:  HDR 5 exposures (+2 to -2)
  • Aperture:  f/8.0
  • Gear:  Tripod
  • Post Process: Adobe CS4, Photomatix, Viveza