3 Miles Off The Shore of Fisherman’s Wharf
“The Rock” is the number one tourist destination for visitors to San Francisco, and that is not hard to believe. It rises out in the Bay just 3 miles off the shore of Fisherman’s Wharf, and can be seen from vantage points all over the City, especially from all San Francisco’s famous hills. Originally a fort built by the US military in 1859, it became a military prison in 1907, and then a maximum-security Federal Penitentiary between 1934 and 1963, housing some of America’s most hardened criminals, averaging as many as 264 in its prime. Just inside the entrance to the Bay this side of the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz (Spanish for Pelican) is exposed to the harsh elements of the Pacific Ocean, with extremely swift and deadly currents surrounding it.
Now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, it is accessible only by ferry from Pier 33 and you can reserve a time for your visit by calling 415-705-5555 or on line at www.nps.gov/goga. Due to its popularity and access only by ferry, the number of guests per day is limited so you are well advised to book in advance. No visit to San Francisco is complete without a tour of this famous prison.