On a trip to San Fransisco, we decided to take the tour of Alcatraz, the former prison where some of America’s most famous deviants were held. I knew there would be thought provoking stories about famous prisoners like George “Machine Gun” Kelly, the “Bird Man” Robert Stroud, and, of course, Al Capone. For this alone, the tour does not disappoint.
However, what may be unexpected is the beauty that can be found among what could be called the ruins of Alcatraz.
It is no secret that I believe our society is at the start of its decline due to overshoot. Depleting resources and increasing pollution mean we will be unable to keep up our basic infrastructure and business as usual will begin its long decline.
So for me it is hopeful to look at the deteriorating infrastructure of Alcatraz and see the beauty of nature retaking the declining structures. It’s almost a perfect metaphor: the prison of our making being reclaimed with the help of gardeners. Anyway, that is one way to look at it.
With that in mind, here is a picture tour of Alcatraz.
The ferry boat from San Fransisco to Alcatraz island.
Coming through the mist of a foggy morning adds to the drama of visiting the ruins of an old world.
Part of the island holds a fort that predates the prison.
The island has steep sides; strategic for a fort or prison, but also makes for dramatic views for the unincarcerated.
Walkway up from the dock to the prison house.
A decaying guard tower where the walkway has long since rotted away.
Inside the prison, a walking tour follows the welcoming route that new prisoners would walk upon their reception.
Standard issue clothing looks quite nice!
Part of the warden’s house. It’s a bit drafty these days!
Luckily there’s a fireplace to keep out the winter chill.
This guard shack is guarding nothing more than the flowers now.
Prisoners were granted a place to garden for rehabilitation and good behavior.
One of the current residents of Alcatraz.
Watch that first step! Formerly there was a catwalk around the building. One of the first pieces of infrastructure to rot away.
The view from Alcatraz can be stunning. This prison has better views than most houses of the law-abiding.
Agave flowers dot the island.
This is a million dollar view. Let’s make it a prison.
Metaphorically speaking, who’s in the prison?
A view from below shows the lighthouse, captain’s quarters, and general crumbling.
That may be our ride outta here. Thus concludes our tour…
Here are some links to the history of Alcatraz:
And the company that gives tours of the island: