Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California

Alcatraz Island is a very good example of how you can sell anything you want if you know how to do it. Who would pay to see an old prison? The place where criminals like Al Capone spent a big part of their lives? Well, among hundreds of others, we did! And it was an unforgettable experience.

Welcome to the Rock
If you take a good look at the picture above, you'll see it says: "INDIANS WELCOME". An interesting part of the island's history is that after it had stopped being used as a prison, it was occupied by Native American people for 19 months (1969-1971). Occupying the island was a means of protest; their demands were these: (taken from here)

The occupiers' list of demands included the return of Alcatraz to the American Indians and sufficient funding to build, maintain and operate an Indian cultural complex and a university. Though the government agreed to negotiate, they rejected all of the demands the occupiers proposed.

Fearing that the occupation could be mishandled and violence would ensue, President Nixon's special counsel Leonard Garment issued orders to the GSA that his office would take over the government's Alcatraz policy.

The occupiers organized themselves immediately, electing a council and giving everyone a job. Everyone on the island voted on all major decisions. Within three weeks of the occupation, a school was set up. Older adults taught traditional native arts and crafts such as bead and leather work, woodcarving, costume decoration, sculpture, dance and music.

Once you go inside the building, they show you a short documentary which sets the mood for what is going to follow. Also, they give you the audio tour which describes everything in the best possible way, since the narrators are former inmates.
that's the first thing you see
  We didn't take a picture of the showers which were in the same space, but they were in a row in the middle of that huge room and all the inmates had to shower under the supervision of the guards so that they wouldn't try to do anything, like stab another person.

Each corridor had a name, for example the main one was called "Broadway".

a cell

famous inmates

a cell reconstructed to look like what it was back in the day

the breathtaking view of SF was a torture for the inmates

the breakfast menu of the last day
 The prison was closed on 21 March 1963.

There's a great number of Alcatraz-themed movies. I've only watched The Rock (1996) with Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage. 

the trailer:

Would you visit the Rock?

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