For those that want to visit San Francisco’s notorious Alcatraz Prison, planning ahead is a must! In an effort to assist in that endeavor, Alcatraz Cruises has posted the upcoming winter tour schedule, which began on Monday, November 3, 2015 and continues through Sunday, March 8, 2015 (see schedule below).
In addition to the opportunity to book tickets up to 90 days in advance of tour, visitors to Alcatraz will enjoy the added benefit of complimentary access to the iconic exhibit @Large: Ai Weiwei on Alcatraz with the purchase of a regularly priced ticket through the exhibits’ duration of April 26, 2015.
@Large: Ai Weiwei
The @Large: Ai Weiwei exhibit responds to the island of Alcatraz and its layered history as a place of detainment and protest. The exhibition features new sculpture, sound and multimedia works exploring pressing themes that have characterized Ai Weiwei’s art and activism—the right to free expression, the irrepressible nature of creativity, and the role of art, artists and individuals worldwide in shaping social change. The installations address these concepts in ways that are both personal to the artist’s experiences and life in China and resonant with individuals and communities internationally. Responding to the potent history of Alcatraz Island, the exhibition examines incarceration as a tool of repressive governments, and creative expression as an act of defiance and individual freedom. Artworks are installed in four sites throughout Alcatraz Island. One of the most prominent artists of the 21st century, Ai Weiwei is an architect, sculptor, photographer, filmmaker, curator, writer and activist whose work often responds to conditions in China, including the government’s repression of free speech and expression.
How to Get to Alcatraz/Winter Schedule Passengers may purchase and print tickets online at www.alcatrazcruises.com. Tickets can also be purchased by calling 415-981-ROCK (7625) or from the ticket booth at Pier 33 Alcatraz Landing.
Winter 2014/2015 Tour Schedule Departure Times
Early Bird 8:45 AM
Day Tours 9:10 AM 9:30 AM 10:00 AM 10:30 AM 11:00 AM 11:30 AM Noon 12:30 PM 1:05 PM
Night Tours* 3:20 PM 3:50 PM
*Night Tours run Thursday through Monday evenings…NOT on Tuesday & Wednesday prices and schedules subject to change http://www.alcatrazcruises.com/website/price-schedule-chart.aspx
Ticket Prices starts at $30 per person (children’s, senior’s and family rates available)
Prices and schedules subject to change without notice.
History of Alcatraz
“Despite what they tell you, I think they feel a little nostalgic. I think they’re going to miss this place.” – Alcatraz Warden Fred T. Williamson when the last inmates were shipped out in 1963 Few islands in the world can boast such a glorious natural setting – and grim human past – as Alcatraz. Visited by Native Americans as early as 10,000 years ago, the barren island remained uninhabited until Europeans arrived.
Spanish and Mexican settlers in the early 1800’s called the guano covered island “Isla de los Alcatraces” – Island of Pelicans. Not long after the island was acquired from Mexico in 1848, the U.S. Army built what would become the largest defense fort west of the Mississippi River during the Civil War (1861-1865).
Alcatraz also became a beacon for ships entering the treacherous waters of the Golden Gate after its lighthouse, the first on the West Coast, went into service in 1854, Alcatraz began its long era as a dreaded place of confinement when soldier-convicts were first imprisoned at the fort in 1860. Over the next decades, the island became less of a defense fort and more of a military prison, with Army convicts building most of the structures still standing on Alcatraz today.
Alcatraz was reborn as a civilian Federal Penitentiary in 1934, becoming known in the press as “The Rock” and “America’s Devil’s Island.” Wardens at Atlanta, Leavenworth and other federal prisons selected their most unruly convicts to transfer there, among them Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelley.
No less tough and carefully selected were the guards, one for every three prisoners, who were trained to use their wits as well as their muscle when trouble broke out. Alcatraz was the most escape-proof prison in the nation. Even if a convict could get past the remote-control locks, control tower and barbed wire, he had struggle against swirling tides and icy waters to reach shore. Yet, escape was uppermost on the minds of many inmates. “Alcatraz is becoming a prison of madmen and men half mad,” Al “The Bug” Loomis, a bank robber once incarcerated there, wrote in 1938. “The sustaining hope is escape.”
Over the years, escapees fashioned crude water wings and wooden flippers and attempted the swim, but either drowned or were caught while swimming. In 1962, convict John Paul Scott became the first and only penitentiary escapee to reach the San Francisco shore. He was discovered unconscious on the rocks of Fort Point, purple and shivering with just his socks on. Too weak to continue, he ended up back where he started.
In that same year, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy announced the phase-out of the prison. Alcatraz was turned over to the General Services administration as surplus property and most of the inmates were transferred to a new facility in Marion, Ill.
Over the next few years, hundreds of proposals were submitted for new uses for the island, including a West Coast version of the Statue of Liberty, a casino resort and space museum.