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Significance of Alcatraz


Alcatraz may appear to be just a large, haunted rock floating off the coast of San Francisco, but it is a historic site of great national interest. This little island is among one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country and is internationally known.

Alcatraz has served various purposes for several different groups throughout its history. First, the island was put to use as a United States military outpost and jail for confederate sympathizers during the Civil War.

Breaking the Rules

Next, the island gained infamy as a America’s highest-security federal penitentiary for some of the nation’s most dangerous convicts. Alcatraz’s prison era has been the subject of prolific media attention since it was opened in 1933; there have been countless newspaper articles, books, television shows, and movies all devoted to telling the story of America’s daunting and mysterious island penitentiary.

Welcome to the Rock

Finally, Alcatraz gained prominence as a site of important activism and protest for Native American rights. The Indians of All Tribes’ nineteen month occupation represented an integral part of American culture. Native Americans leveraged the 1960’s era values of free speech and protest to draw attention to the government’s unfair treatment of indigenous peoples, and ultimately helped change the government’s policies towards Native Americans.

Although Alcatraz may only look like a rock near San Francisco to some, its intangible heritage and inherent cultural significance is derived from the role it played in so many different individuals’ lives. Because of the valuable historic and multifaceted roles the island has played throughout its storied history, it is critical that Alcatraz be preserved for future generations.




Currently, tours are held on the island, and visitors can go to and from the island via a ferry from Pier 33. Pier 33 is located near Fisherman’s Wharf, in San Francisco. The ferry system is called Alcatraz Cruises and is owned by Hornblower Cruises and Events. The ferries function all year.

Touring the island requires a lot of walking. The Alcatraz dock area, prison building main floor, all bookstores, museum displays, and theater are all wheelchair accessible. Also, certain visitors can use the SEAT program (Sustainable Easy Access Transport), which consists of small cars that can drive visitors with limited mobility around the island. However, further work can be done to improve the accessibility of the island. Some smaller ferries could be used to give tours around the exterior of the island.

Also, the proposed multi-sensory virtual tour booths, as outlined in the  Interpretive Plans section, would help increase accessibility of the island for individuals with limited mobility who wish to see more of the island than SEAT provides. Because it is multi-sensory, it will also help visitors who are hearing impaired, since they can increase the volume to meet their needs. Also, for visually impaired visitors, listening to the audio tour along with the smells that are released at each location will enhance the accessibility of the historic material for them.

Engaging New Communities


In order to remain a popular and relevant cultural heritage site, it is important that the National Park Service expands its current tour operations and appeal to a wider audience of potential visitors. This would also encourage those who have already visited the island to return in the future. The proposals included in this project, accessible in the Interpretive Plans section, will help the National Park Service to reach out to San Francisco Bay Area residents, repeat visitors, children, Native Americans, and Internet “visitors”. By reaching out to various audiences, the National Park Service can ensure that each different group will have the opportunity to learn about Alcatraz Island as a unique, multi-faceted cultural heritage site.

Our interpretive plans’ inclusions of new digital technologies, such as the integration of virtual reality technology, will appeal to the San Francisco Bay Area’s significant population of young people involved in the production of technology. The National Park Service could use the introduction of these new, high-technology plans as a way of reaching out to San Francisco Bay Area residents, many of whom would be intrigued by the new digital components of Alcatraz’s tour offerings. Thus, these new interpretive plans would allow the National Park Service to appeal to individuals living in close proximity to Alcatraz, encourage those who have never visited the island to visit, and freshly excite previous visitors.

Alcatraz Arrival

Additionally, our comprehensive proposals will allow for Native American visitors, including but not limited to those who are aware of and connected to the Indians of All Tribes group, to experience Alcatraz as an important Native American heritage site. The National Park Service currently offers little information on the island’s important history as the site of a Native American occupation. Certain proposals, such as the multi-sensory virtual tour booth and the smartphone application, will provide more information about the Native American occupancy for visitors. This is done in hopes that making this information more available will attract Native American populations and those interested in their history to visit Alcatraz.

Finally, certain aspects of our proposal could be adapted to allow for Internet visitors to take virtual tours of Alcatraz. While some aspects of the proposed plans, such as the olfactory components featured in the multi-sensory virtual tour booths, could not be adapted for Internet visitors, other aspects of the proposed plans could be suitable for online distribution. For instance, virtual visitors could pay to access the smartphone application and disable their phone’s GPS capabilities in order to take a photo tour of the gardens and wildlife. This would be done without the location specific story map, but with all of the application’s included information. Additionally, the holographic tours of Alcatraz could be filmed and uploaded to an online database, accessible to virtual visitors for a fee to watch the online tour of the storied former penitentiary.



Children playing at the Bulb by Brenda Arjona

Significance of the Albany Bulb

A dump is a place where waste resides and where unwanted things go die. It is virtually forgotten by the people who deposit materials and is only remembered when an individual must again go to the dump to dispose of additional objects. The question to ask in the context of the Albany Bulb project is when does a dump lose stigma and gain the status of a site representing sociocultural value (Mason)? In the case of the Albany Bulb, this shift began to take place when formerly homeless people began to take up residence there.

 This documentary was directed by Tomas McCabe and Andrei Rozen


Some might wonder how it is that a landfill dump can have value. Therein lies the uniqueness of the Albany Bulb, and why it holds so much value to the people of the community and the former residents. First and foremost, the bulb is valuable because of its history. Many people place value on a site or area simply because it has been around for a long time (Mason 11). Since the creation of the neck of the bulb began in the 1940’s with the construction of Golden Gate Fields, it qualifies as a historical place (more than 50 years old), which makes it of value.
Historical value is just one of the sociocultural values attached to the Albany Bulb.

Social value is one of the most important aspects concerning the bulb and the future preservation of tangible and intangible heritage surrounding this place. Randall Mason defines social value as “place attachment…social cohesion, community identity, or other feelings of affiliation that social groups (whether very small and local, or national in scale) derive from the specific heritage and environment characteristics of their ‘home’ territory.” To the former residents of the bulb, place attachment is everything. They literally built their homes on this land and lived there for decades. One can still see brick flooring, sectioned off gardens, and artifacts that remain in the places where the former bulb residents built their homes. The emotional and physical attachment that the residents felt is what makes the bulb so valuable to them and to the community members who support their right to the land.


The Albany Bulb is free to visit and needs little development to fulfill its value as a heritage place. However, the site needs to be made accessible to the people who originally used the area, as well as the park visitors and dog­walking community. In order to achieve this, the management policies need to be changed. The primary problem with the management of the site is that is was not managed at all for many years. The biggest issue would be to have a consistent management plan and implementation from the state. That being said, the state and city need to work together with the former residents, community, and other stakeholders in order to create management policies that not only reflect the values of the various stakeholders, but also respect their right to the bulb as a heritage place.

Plaque and Mural Project

Davis House’s provision of student housing introduces unique challenges to its preservation. In a two-step approach, this project intends to take into account both the contribution of the inhabitants, as well as attempting to affix more permanent documentation in a way that will survive the constant turnover of student life. Step one of this project is a commemorative plaque mounted on the front of Davis house, in a space that is both visible and accessible. The plaque will give a brief history of the house detailing its construction and various histories. By affixing a plaque to the house, house members will have an accessible point of documented memory from which to draw, that will also be available to visitors and outsiders as well, opening the house to the public.

The second part of this project would be the creation of a living mural, documenting the history of the house while leaving stylized blank spaces for residents to create and add their own content to the mural. This mural would encourage the house’s history to evolve as the house grows and continues to exist.

The key to the success of this project lies in the blended approach of “official” and interpretive history practices that incorporate both elements of the institutional as well as the cultural values of the cooperative. We hope to retain the cultural values of the people to whom this heritage site belongs, while also encouraging longevity, creativity, and preservation.

Current Points of Interpretation and Accessibility

The International Hotel Manilatown Center contains a rich interpretive landscape inside the community center space. In addition, the International Hotel Manilatown Center has an open space where Filipino and other peoples come and practice intangible heritage such as dancing and singing. Much of the installations in the International Hotel Manilatown Center provide information about the struggle against eviction. There are installations, photographs, and cabinets that contain historic documents.

ITEL_communityevents (1)

The Manilatown Center inside the International Hotel holds intangible heritage events such as dancing.

Factors that structure accessibility for Bay Area residents specifically are threefold: I-Hotel Community Center hours of operation and the Manilatown Heritage Foundation website. I-Hotel community center hours of operation are Wednesday through Sunday from 12pm to 3pm. The Manilatown Heritage Foundation Website is The website contains information about I-Hotel and programs and services that the Manilatown Heritage Foundation offers at the I-Hotel Community Center. In addition, the website offers web-based services such as an email listserve.


Albany Bulb Landscape Videos

One of the amazing aspects of the Bulb is the natural landscape. These videos captured by Briana Flores show the natural beauty of the Bulb as well as some of the sculptures left by artists. Former residents and community members still enjoy theses visual masterpieces daily.

Interpretive Plan: I-Tel

My interpretive plan focuses on community outreach and education. My goal is to get kids and students interacting with the I-Hotel at an early age, fostering a personal connection with the site in a manner defined by the individual. Later on, I would provide students with the opportunity to grapple with the physical site’s legacy of community organizing and solidarity, with the hopes of them becoming stewards for the site and leaders for both the Filipino American community as well as other community organizations.

Short Term Plan:


My plan will focus on 3 levels of outreach, revolving around the theme of I-Tel, emphasizing the importance of telling individual and shared stories. I-Tel days are bi-monthly events open to families and their children, each with a corresponding theme, such as ‘Family’ or ‘Community.” At the elementary level, the center will host a monthly I-Tel day, where families can bring their children for storytelling of Filipino folk tales, stories from the Manongs (original I-Hotel residents) and other community members of their time in the Philippines. In doing so, parents will have a free recreational activity for their children that fosters a personal connection to the physical space.


Mock up of I-Tel Arts & Crafts

At the intermediate level (6th to 8th grades,) I-Tel days will give young adults more agency in sharing their stories. Manilatown will turn the tables on who is telling the story by giving the students an opportunity to share their experiences via arts, crafts, and poetry/ language arts. The theme for intermediate level students will build upon the day’s theme by adding a more specific subtheme.

ITEL_JC_InternshipBlog (1).pngMock up of I-Tel Internship Blog

At the high school/college level, the internship program will have a new curriculum that aims to foster critical and well-informed leaders that have a greater understanding of the context of the I-Hotel. Each week will have a learning objective and corresponding reading material. To share this learning, there will be a weekly blogging/ vlogging prompt to be published on the official I-Tel tumblr blog. In doing so, this learning can be shared with the greater public.

Long Term Plan (25 Years):

The goal of my interpretive plan is to get the next generation of Filipino Americans to invest into the I-Hotel’s legacy and mission of bringing justice to the Filipino community at an early age. The elementary level activities depend upon volunteers, which can be leveraged off the internship program. At the intermediate level, the I-Hotel could publish an anthology of select student poetry, in addition to digitizing the art and literature onto their website for fresh content. From the internship program, as well as the collective of students that are ‘raised’ with the I-Hotel, I hope that a handful will feel compelled enough to give back to the program by leading it in the future. With the I-Hotel becoming a more distant event in the past, these programs will utilize the fall and rise of the I-Hotel as main learning point, but will focus on the a grander concept of shared heritage and community solidarity.

Filipino Migration and Social Mobility

The proposed interpretive project is an audio/video installation to be located along the west wall of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community center. Currently, on this wall there are mounted architectural remains from the original I-Hotel building in addition to framed photographs and a plaque that has the names of former I-Hotel residents. The audience for this installation will be people who visit the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center. As such, people visit the center for different purposes either to volunteer, curate materials, participate in ongoing events, facilitate community meetings, and other activities that involve formal and informal meetings. This audio/video installation will give primacy to the human sense of vision and the human sense of hearing to convey information. Visuals will be displayed through an overhead projector and projected onto the wall. Audio will be played back through mountains speakers in the rafters overhead.
Figure — Tony Robles points describing the mounted installation in the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Center


Tony Robles describing the International Hotel brick installation inside the Manilatown Center.

The project is titled “Filipino Immigration and Social Mobility in the San Francisco Bay Area and the United States of America” and it is an audio/visual installation. This type of installation is commonly used in museum and interpretive center settings. Generally, the installation consists of a screen, an overhead visual projector, audio speakers and a playback device. The visual projector and the audio speakers are linked to a playback device–a DVD player or computer–and the digital file from the playback device is rendered visually to the screen and kinetically to the speakers.

The proposed playback time is 15-30 minutes and will consists of a synthesized story of Filipino immigration to North America, history of I-Hotel in San Francisco, interviews with former residents, interviews with the children of former residents, and maps that show the concentrations of Filipino people in the Bay Area and in the United States. This synthesized story will pool resources available to staff at the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center and will develop new resources through the production of visuals and interviews. First step in the development of this installation is an inventory of materials that have information about immigration and social mobility in the archives and an inventory of the skills and training available at hand from staff members and volunteers who work at Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center. This step identifies the equipment, materials and skills and training needed to complete the project. Furthermore, this step helps to develop a timetable for the completion of the project. Thereafter the project is split into phases. Phase one consists of digitization of archival materials (if needed) and procurement of audio/visual equipment and construction of installation. Phase two consists of research, design and rendering of infographics/maps that show how the Filipino population has changed in socioeconomic and residential status since the inception of I-Hotel. Phase three consists of interviews with former residents and their descendents. And Phase four consists of production of the proposed synthesized story–storyboarding, drafting, critiquing, and approval from the Manilatown Heritage Foundation board of directors.


A mockup of Manilatown Center brick installation. Images will be projected on bricks.

Short Term (5 years):
This project contributes to the sustainability of not only the Manilatown Heritage Foundation Community Center, but also the sustainability of Filipino heritage in San Francisco. This proposal has to potential to pool resources that are available–archival materials held in trust by the Manilatown Heritage Foundation–with new equipment and skills to facilitate the creation of this installation. As such, it helps train staff and make materials accessible to visitors which overlaps with the themes of social justice activism, community organization and labor rights. The message conveyed through this installation presences Filipino history within San Francisco thus contributing to the sustainably of Filipino heritage more generally in the Bay Area.

Long-Term (25 years):
The changing demographics of the San Francisco Bay Area are changing rapidly. The International Hotel Manilatown Center is one of a handful of places that showcase social justice and equity within the rapidly gentrifying San Francisco urban landscape. Over the long-term then, the skills and training gathered and distributed with this installation works towards fashioning a longer vision for the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. The skills and training offered through the creation of the installation in terms of content and performance offer the chance to create new workflows for other aspects of the foundation. To continue the longevity of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, this installation acts as an incubator of skills and training that work from within to continue the sustainability of International Hotel.

Appraisal: Community


The I-Hotel is first and foremost linked to the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, which manages its legacy. The rise of the I-Hotel is attributes to collaboration amongst various community organizations, which the Manilatown Heritage Foundation continues to do with community organizations, government agencies, and educational instituions through program collaboration in the spirit of its rebuilding. National interest in the site stems from the over 3.5 million Filipino Americans whose resilient history is embodied by the fall and rise of the I-Hotel. International interest stems from the over 7 million Filipino migrants who have relocated throughout the world, yet share a similar experience to the Manongs who occupied the I-Hotel after migrating to the United States. On a grander scale, communities of color can relate to the solidarity embodied in the I-Hotel movement.


The I-Hotel’s current stewards serve on a volunteer basis and train future stewards through an internship program. However, the site struggles with garnering an investment from the next generation, as many of its current stewards are older. The Foundation relies on data provided by the narratives of the original tenants of the I-Hotel as well as accounts from others that were involved. The foundation invests much of its time and energy into educating its visitors via galleries, tours, and programs. Improvements can be made for visitors to access digital content via the internet. The shift in demographics has caused the I-Hotel to be located in a largely Chinese American community, and thus its programs do not directly serve its surrounding neighbors, raising a contestation between historic location versus current situation. However, it is not to be said that these neighbors are not welcome to these programs.

A large Filipino American population resides in the SoMa district, and the location is easily accessible by means of public transportation. In terms of the site as a destination, there is a need for a clearer distinction to be made between the I-Hotel and the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, as the former is a residential building not affiliated with commemorating the site’s legacy. A docent can provide a guided tour of the new I-Hotel, however, much of the information to be grappled with is located in the Manilatown Heritage Foundation center, located in a separate space at the first floor of the I-Hotel. Because of the not-for-profit model of the Manilatown Heritage Foundation, it is accessible to various economic backgrounds, but not necessarily sustainable as a financial entity. It has a minimal impact on the environment and does not output a significant amount of waste from its programs. A primary constraint to implementation of further programming is funding. A potential threat could be the looming real estate prices in San Francisco and how that could play a role in the Manilatown Heritage Foundation maintaining its current space.