Saturday, April 11, 2009

San Francisco, California: Alcatraz

Alcatraz has great views of San Francisco, and plenty of privacy. But you wouldn't want to spend 20 years to life there.

This might be America's most famous prison. It was open for more than a century, closing in 1963 when it became twice as expensive to operate as any other prison. Alcatraz served its purpose. Since it's in the middle of San Francisco Bay and its strong ocean currents, no one escaped from there.

Indians occupied the building for more than a year starting in 1969. In fact, you can still see the graffiti from that event on the walls. The occupation is a large part of the tour, which goes through the various parts of the prison. You can even have a door slam behind you in a cell, if you dare.

Two movie stories about Alcatraz: When we visited, "The Rock" was being filmed, so the exercise yard was filled with lights and props. No Sean Connery sightings, though.

Supposedly, George Lucas taped the sound of doors closing from here, and used it in "Star Wars."

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