Now that the New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center is in operation, there's apparently a serious need to hire an outside firm to help "market" Auburn so that it can become a much bigger tourist attraction than it already is. Certainly we are aware of all the local sites to see and things to do ... and a creative marketing firm can make a lot more happen!

And, since no crystal ball is needed to predict what one day (I believe) will also occur ... since it's already here ... that guarantees bringing tourists here in droves?

Having lived twice in California for a period of a decade each time, it was seeing what began in very long lines in the early 1980s and then, by the mid-1990s a need that reservations “in extreme advance” be made to see Alcatraz prison in San Francisco Bay.

As some folks know, Alcatraz was the site of the first lighthouse in the western United States but became a federal penitentiary from 1934-1963 and it housed famous convicts such as Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. And now, this once infamous prison island is part of the Bay Area’s 80,000-acre Golden Gate National Recreation Area, acquired in 1972.

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Now over one million tourists visit Alcatraz each year and it is one of the city's most popular attractions! On the city's website visitors frequently say “it is a can't miss attraction.” Travelers enjoy being able to get up close to the prison cells and hear on the audio tour voiced by inmates and prison guards what makes the visit “memorable and informative.” The ferry ticket to get to the island isn't cheap – starting at $44.25 for adults – and due to the popularity of the attraction, the park service strongly suggests booking tickets in advance “to avoid waiting in long lines.” You can book up to 90 days in advance for your trip via Alcatraz Cruises.

And so, it is inevitable that the closing of Auburn's prison will one day happen and when it does, Auburn may very well become “the biggest attraction” outside of New York City!

Joyce Hackett Smith-Moore

Auburn, New York

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