Joel took this picture thinking of yesterday's Lapham quote about Americans gilding history. This is outside Hornblower's (nonunion) Pier 33 Alcatraz ferry terminal.
Angel Island. Note dummy bird with ranger, perhaps symbolizing the currently recognized importance of Alcatraz seabird populations. (Odd how the famous Birdman's interest was in canaries.)
The figure on the right is more obviously a prison guard, apparently symbolizing the nasty old past of the island.
Which dummy do you want your picture taken with? Pay your money, take your choice?
Alcatraz is really strikingly one of the few places where members of the general public are invited to identify with prisoners. It maintains a permanent teachable moment -- an invitation to reflect that nobody, not even duly convicted felons, deserves certain kinds of institutional mistreatment.
It's also several other kinds of place: a bird sanctuary, yes, and an iconic Native American protest site, and quite a lot else.
Never quite makes sense to see one layer of a place at a time. People do anyhow. A lot.