March 21 Closing Anniversary Celebration

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Photo by Leigh Wiener


Special Event on Alcatraz Island- Commemorating a Closing with an Opening

Alcatraz closed as a Federal Penitentiary 50 years ago on March 21. Ferry tickets are going fast.

San Francisco, CA- The National Park Service (NPS) is commemorating an important point of history for Alcatraz Island on March 21. That is the day in 1963 that Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary closed forever. The National Park Service became the stewards of the infamous island almost 10 years later.


· Opening of special exhibit of photographs based on the book "Alcatraz: The Last Day." Exhibit and special presentations will be held See details below.

· Special presentations by former guards who worked on Alcatraz

· Special presentations by people who lived on Alcatraz when it was a penitentiary

· Book signing and talks by authors who have written books about life on Alcatraz featuring:

  • Jim Albright, author of "Last Guard Out," who will be on the island Tue Mar 19 - Sat Mar 24. Ask at the bookstore on the Island dock for his schedule and location on the Island.
  • Devik Wiener will be signing copies of "Alcatraz: The Last Day," a book of Leigh Wiener's never-before seen photographs was published by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.


When infamous Alcatraz Penitentiary closed permanently on March 21, 1963, Life Magazine editors called upon a California-based photographer Leigh Wiener, a seasoned professional, to document the day. Most of the 300 images from that day remained unpublished, filed away in his archive, until they were discovered 45 years later by his son. In 2008, while inventorying his late father's photographic legacy of nearly 1/2 a million proof sheets and negatives, Devik Wiener recognized the images taken on the closing day of Alcatraz. He contacted the National Park Service, and in 2012, "Alcatraz: The Last Day," a book of Leigh Wiener's never-before seen photographs, was published by the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

On March 21, 2013, fifty years later, the National Park Service is opening a new exhibit of oversized prints of 27 of these never before displayed photos, in the New Industries (Laundry) Building on Alcatraz Island. There is no extra charge to see this exhibit, but hours are limited based on daily staffing and schedules. Please ask on the Island dock for information about visiting the exhibit or follow us on Twitter at @AlcatrazIsland . Visit for more information about visiting Alcatraz.

The exhibit will remain on the island through June of 2013, and may be extended.

Last updated: March 12, 2013

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Mailing Address:

Alcatraz Island
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
B201 Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123


(415) 561-3000

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