San Francisco, CA

Visits To Alcatraz Island To Resume From Monday

Amancay Tapia

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As San Francisco is likely to enter orange tier before the end of the month, and many indoor activities have resumed since the city entered the less restrictive red tier last week .

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area and National Park Service have announced the reopening of one of San Francisco’s most beloved attractions, Alcatraz island, which will welcome back visitors from Monday, March 15th.

The island has been closed since December 2020, when the stay-at-home order was implemented in San Francisco, but following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health authorities , outdoor areas of the island and some indoor facilities, such as the iconic cell house, will reopen for visitors next week.

To visit and explore Alcatraz's history and natural beauty, advanced booking is required as for the time being, they will be offering a reduced service.

On the Ferries and during your visit, protocol must be followed such as wearing face masks and maintaining social distance.

Food will not be offered on ferry to and from the island and visitors are not allowed to eat food once on Alcatraz Island.

The site offers enough space for visitors to explore the island keeping a safe distance and at their own pace, but to ensure the visit is safe, changes have been made such as the introduction of social distancing markers, installing hand sanitizing stations, and increased cleaning and signage.

From Monday, access to outdoor areas of the island will open-including Eagle Plaza, Sally Port, Recreation Yard and historic gardens- and so will the areas of China Alley and lower Building 64.

To visit the interior of the Cell House, visitors will need to sign up for the Cell House Audio Tour.

GGNRA General Superintendent Laura Joss said;

“We expect everyone to follow CDC guidance, wear a mask, and give each other space to safely enjoy their experience at this iconic site”.

Alcatraz island was once a lighthouse, a fort, a military prison, and in 1934, it became a federal prison until 1963.

In 1969, a group of Native Americans who called themselves “United Indians of All Tribes”, occupied Alcatraz for 19 months in the name of freedom and Native American civil rights.

The New Industries Building is featuring an exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of this Alcatraz Occupation entitled “Red Power On Alcatraz: Perspective 50 Years Later”

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Golden Gate National Recreation Area commemorates the moment in history when they arrived on Alcatraz.

The Native Americans spoke out against the U.S. Government's Termination policy, through which American Indian tribes were disbanded and their land sold.

The policy also forced the relocation native American off reservations into urban areas. At the time, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, claimed their plan was to move thousands of Native Americans to cities and urban jobs.

The Native Americans who occupied Alcatraz were also joining and supporting the Civil Rights Movement and the protests against the Vietnam War.

The exhibition tells the story of the 19-month occupation of the Island and the work they have done ever since to improve the treatment of Native American people in the United States.

It was back in November 2019 when the exhibit opened on Alcatraz Island but due to the Covid -19 Pandemic many people could not see it.

Visitors will now finally have the chance to enjoy photographs by Ilka Hartmann, Stephen Shames and Brooks Townes, and original materials from the collection of Kent Blansett, as well as contributions from the people who occupied the island for almost two years.

To check updates on the park operation, you can visit their website.

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