A few months ago, Amanda and I were able to visit Alcatraz Island. It was an amazing visit and we were actually able to get a behind the scenes personal tour. It happened like this. When you are there, you have the option of a "guided tour" which essentially is a headset that you wear, and as you walk around it gives you a 'tour'. Amanda and I didn't think we would be able to do the tour, as we had to leave to get to an appointment before the 'tour' would be over. So we opted to just walk around and look on our own.
I have to say, it's a very strange experience to be walking around the old cells, with about a hundred or so other people, all of whom have the audio tour playing in their ears. The result is that no one talks, because they are all listening to their tours. So we are walking around this prison, with all these people, and all you can hear is the shuffling of their feet. Very strange indeed.
Okay, back to our behind the scenes tour. We were outside and I was taking pictures with one of my longer lenses, while Amanda hung back and enjoyed the scenery. When all of a sudden a man approached her and asked if I was with her. She said yes, and then he said "Do you think he would like to see some peeling paint?" Amanda thought for a second, and then said, "Actually yes. And he was taking pictures of some on a wall earlier". "Follow me" he said.
Amanda yelled down to me to come with them. He then took us to a locked jailhouse type door, took out a huge ring of keys and opened the door. We walked up this rickety old staircase and he brought us to areas of the jail that the general tours don't go to. He later mentioned that he thought that we would enjoy it because we were photographers. And he was right! He took us to the chapel area, above the general quarters where the guards would have patrolled, and then to the hospital area, where they preformed surgeries, dentistry, and kept some of the more interesting inmates. Inmates like the Birdman of Alcatraz and Al Capone. He also showed us where they filmed scenes from the movie The Rock staring Sean Connery.
It was an amazing adventure and we thank our great tour guide. He was fantastic! Here are some of the pictures from our special tour. Enjoy!
Taken from the dock where we landed.
One of the officers quarters.
This is "Broadway". They named each of the rows based on New York streets.
Very small living spaces.
In 1969 a group of Indians occupied the island. They were protesting a treaty, and remained on the island for 19 months. Since the island is a National Historic Site, none of the graffiti can be removed or changed.
Here is some of the graffiti in the Chapel room. It was eerie looking at it, and you can even see the date ('70) on the one wall.
This is the view towards the door leading to the Chapel. To the right behind the bars, is the staircase we came up.
This is the view looking down to the general population area. On the left you might be able to make out a person or two. That is where the regular tour was.
This is a view of the original cell doors. They changed the way they opened after guards were being hurt by the inmates. The inmates were able to push the doors as they opened outward and smash them into the guards. The new doors were designed to slide sideways, and were opened from a master control panel which was much safer for the guards.
There is the tour on 'Broadway'.
I loved this door. All the glass has been broken out, and it looks like there might have been a bullet hole in it.
Here is the operating room. I got chills standing in this room. The metal table was the creepiest part.
This is the cell that the Birdman of Alcatraz was in. They say he was a little crazy.
Love the rust on this door.
This is one of the cells that Capone was in during his time here. It was also a room that was used in The Rock. In fact there is still some fake blood on the ceiling from their filming.