Without a doubt, Alcatraz Island is most famous for its time as a maximum high-security Federal Penitentiary. During its 29 years as a federal prison, Alcatraz housed some of the most notorious, ruthless and dangerous criminals in American history.
Prior to it being home to the likes of Al Capone, notorious bank robbers and murders, it was originally designed as a fortress and defence base to protect San Francisco and the state of California from invasion.
During the civil war, it became a military prison for Confederate sympathizers and it wasn’t until 1933 that the island became a federal prison for the most troublesome of prisoners. It was believed to be inescapable and America’s strongest prison, mostly due to its high security measures, isolation and the cold water with extremely strong currents surrounding the island.
During our self-guided audio tour of the prison cellhouse, we learnt so much of the history within Alcatraz’s walls – which was both frightening and incredibly interesting. We visited the main four blocks of the cellhouse, the library, the warden’s office, the visition room and the kitchen/dining room.
The cells on A-Block, B-Block and C-Block were incredibly small and primitive but it was D-Block, nicknamed “The Hole”, that housed the worst inmates, including those in solitary confinement. It was super creepy stepping inside the prison cells, but I couldn’t stay for more than a few seconds inside the solitary confinement cells. It was down right freaky!
During the audio tour, we heard many interviews from the notorious inmates and a common theme that they seemed to agree on was the psychological punishment that the prison presented. Being so close to the bustling metropolis of San Francisco, on a windy day/night, the prisoners stated that they could often hear the sounds of music, people chattering and laughing – the sounds of Freedom. Alcatraz also had windows with views of the outside world lining the cell block corridors and visible from the behind the prison cells’ bars.
Our time on Alcatraz felt like a fascinating, and sometimes scary/creepy (but that’s what makes it so fascinating!), lesson in history. In addition to that, the island is incredibly beautiful, the grounds are home to a huge array of fauna and flora and it offers amazing views of San Francisco and the Bay.
Our Alcatraz tour was amazing and the overall experience was hard to beat. Ty and I both highly recommend a visit if you should ever find yourself in San Francisco!
Would you do a night tour of Alcatraz or do you think a day time one would be freaky enough? I’d love to know if you’ve visited the island or if you plan to visit one day!
Thanks so much for reading! Xo
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