Everybody loves the intrigue of an island. Even the word itself seems mysterious. There is so many famous islands in the world but none as well-known as Alcatraz Island and its infamous prison. Visiting this was one of my highlights of San Francisco. Despite its rich history as a federal prison, this island is so much more. It has some of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.
Angel Island from Alcatraz
Views of San Francisco
Carved by natural and human forces, Alcatraz served the army as fortresses and a military prison as well as then becoming a maximum security federal penitentiary. Deteriating buildings and lack of sewage and money saw the closing of Alcatraz as a federal prison. There was an average of 260 prisoners housed at Alcatraz at any one time. The last inmates left on the 21st April 1963.
Staff living quarters
Some of the famous inmates include Al Capone and ‘The Birman’ Stroud who spent 54 years of his life in prison. 42 of these years was spent in solitary confinement in Cell D – labelled to house the ‘unruly inmates’. In its time as a prison, Alcatraz known locally as “The Rock” had 36 prisoners try to escape. All but five were recaptured and accounted for. Three of those who escaped from the same breakout where never found.
A typical Cell at Alcatraz
Alcatraz Island still remains a mystery to me. It is said ‘Break the rules, you go to prison. Break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz. A 10-minute ferry ride across the bay from the world famous Pier 33 on Fisherman’s Wharf, you can nearly imagine what it would have been like to be taken across the water to The Rock. Knowing that you may never return.
From the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of America to the protected land and wildlife that now take up residency there. From the cold, harsh reality of the cells that still stand to the beautiful views of Angel Island and the whole city of San Francisco, Alcatraz is a must when visiting Sunny California.
Alcatraz from the ferry
On ‘The Rock’