Author Archives: dhong24

Modern Context and Preservation


     Since 1972, the National Park Service has maintained the island and managed its tourist operations. A ticket to visit Alcatraz includes a ferry ride from San Francisco’s Pier 33 to the island and an audio tour of the cell hours. Audio tours are narrated by former correctional officers and offered in eleven different languages. Visitors can also attend scheduled presentations and tours to learn more about specific topics, such as the island’s gardens and infamous escape attempts. However, these narrowly focused presentations are only offered a few times per week. The island is open to visitors for both daytime and evening tours. Alcatraz has gained international recognition as a popular and fascinating tourist site, and according to the National Park Service, approximately one million tourists visit Alcatraz Island each year.

Gardens of Alcatraz

Alcatraz is currently in good condition because the National Park Service has invested time and effort to ensure the preservation of the island’s structures and wildlife. However, due to its location in the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz is subject to harsh sea winds and constant humidity, both of which contribute to gradual erosion of the island’s structures. The National Park Service will have to continue to monitor the condition of the island’s structures in order to ensure their protection from erosion so that the island can remain open for future tourism.

In the future, Alcatraz’s structures and wildlife could be affected by rising sea levels resulting from global warming. In order to protect the island from the risks associated with global warming, the National Park Service will have to work with the United States government to advocate for policies aimed at curtailing the negative effects of climate change.


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Key Players

The National Park Service currently acts as the main steward of Alcatraz, as it maintains the facilities and oversees tourist operations. Volunteers also act as stewards of Alcatraz. For instance, dedicated volunteers care for the island’s expansive gardens. In the past, various stewards, such as Native American occupants, prison employees, and American military, maintained the island. Interestingly, Alcatraz’s prisoners also acted as stewards, as they helped maintain the island’s gardens.

There are several unique groups of individuals who are stakeholders in Alcatraz’s past, present, and future use. Former prisoners and their descendants are stakeholders of Alcatraz, though they have a range of experiences with the site. Interestingly, some former prisoners have expressed their admiration and nostalgia for the island prison. The infamous bank robber Whitey Bulger, who was imprisoned at Alcatraz for three years before being transferred to another federal penitentiary, later wrote of his yearning for Alcatraz and its scenic view of San Francisco, as pictured below.

San Francisco Views From Alcatraz

Former correctional officers and their descendants are also stakeholders of Alcatraz. During Alcatraz’s prison era, correctional officers and their families lived on the island themselves, in houses and apartments that were separate from the main cell house.

Additionally, Alcatraz is a site of historical and cultural significance for Native Americans. The Indians of All Tribes’ nineteen-month occupation of Alcatraz represents an important act of protest by Native Americans towards the American government. Native Americans today represent an important group of stakeholders in Alcatraz because of the protests that took place on Alcatraz Island.

Finally, Alcatraz is a site of interest to various interpretive groups and academics. For instance, the We Players, a theater group dedicated to performing classic dramas in unusual locations, performed Hamlet on Alcatraz Island, as pictured below.