• Alex Place

DESIGN DETAILS | ALCATRAZ

Updated: Jan 23


After visiting the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Will and I need to see all the haunted prisons. As this was on our 'must do' list, we bought our tickets ahead of time and got them at will call. Getting on the ferry, I have to admit I knew almost nothing about Alcatraz. I knew Al Capone had been there and that a couple people had escaped and never been found.

Key takeaways I got from the tour and signage were:

- The families of the guards and workers lived on the island. Children would be ferried to the city every day to go to school.

- The island was at one time occupied by Native American Indians in 1969-1971. There is still a lot of large graffiti visible from this time, something I didn't expect.

- The audio tour was a really interesting mix of violence (attempted escapes, gangsters, riots, murder) and a narrative of normalcy. It talked a lot about the day to day, prisoners making art, listening to the radio, playing baseball. I think I was expecting it to be more dramatic, because everything I'd ever heard about it had sounded as such. I can assume when planning the tour, they wanted it to be educational and serious -- rather than repeat all of the stories that already have specials on the History Channel.

Sign | Model Industries Building

Alcatraz Island

This building was fairly empty, except for a temporary exhibition highlighting the work that was done there. It also had some bios of the most notorious prisoners.

What I was most excited about in this space was just its interior architecture. I'm sure with all the workstations and people in it, it didn't look as cool. I thought the large emptiness of it all with its natural light made it more poetic. The floor and the paint made me feel a little bit like I was underwater.

Guard Tower

Alcatraz Island

A note on visiting: A lot of the buildings are closed or complete skeletons. There are really only 1-3 buildings that you can walk around at any given time. You can go around the whole island, and there is one walking trail that goes along the water. While it was warm in the city, I didn't realize it would be freezing and windy on the island (I know). So be sure to bring a jacket.

Color Studies | Alcatraz

I'm not sure what the original paint looked like, but walking through the cell blocks I was surprised to see a lot of pinks and teals. The cell block on the left, flooded with light, was the most desirable cell in the entire building.


I think these were the floors in the cafeteria -- layers of tile, paint, and concrete.

Bartlett Hotel + Guesthouse | San Francisco

240 O'Farrell St, San Francisco, CA 94102

The Bartlett was a quirky spot. it has a good location and a great brewery attached to it, and it also has hostel-like bunk rooms for those on a budget. I was surprised to see this nice hand drawn sign when we got off the elevator. I should have gone to each floor to see how they were all different. Next time!


Sunset | The Cliff House

1090 Point Lobos Ave

Bonus sunset color study. It's amazing how fast time moves when you're watching a sunset. You could watch it for fifteen minutes, and it feels like you only just got there when the sky turns dark and it's time to leave.

#Travel #Typography #Design #Inspiration #SanFrancisco #Alcatraz #ColorStudies #CaliforniaSunset #BartlettHotel #Designdetails #TravelTypography

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Freelance Graphic Designer