"Alcatraz Island" Top 5 Page for this destination Alcatraz Island by starship

Alcatraz Island Travel Guide: 116 reviews and 191 photos

"The Rock"

What is it about Alcatraz that fascinates people so much? Over one million visitors arrive annually on the famous island's shore. This former fortress and prison has been the subject of numerous films and documentaries which show us but a glimpse of its fascinating past. Hollywood films have done a good job of arousing the interests of scores of people who all crave to know more -- to get the opportunity firsthand to feel what it's like to be inside its walls.

Alcatraz Island, also commonly known as "The Rock," has been in use since 1853 when a military fortress was constructed there for geographical security reasons. It did not function as a prison until some years later though it is nontheless known mostly for being a prison with a harsh regime where prisoners did "hard time." Another characteristic it is legendary for is that fact that it was virtually impossible to escape from---and yet prisoners did attempt to escape and their escape attempts and what became of them is still speculated upon to this day.

Ironically during Alcatraz's tenure as a military prison, history tells us that it functioned only as a minimum security prison. This fact is borne out by the types of work assignments given some inmates based on their classification and rankings. Imagine that not only was it once the "home" of hard-core prisoners but at the same time certain prisoners remarkably worked for the warden's and guards' families---imagine children living on "The Rock"! At times, some inmates were assigned work such as cooking, cleaning and household chores for the island's families including caring for the children of staff members!!

Hollywood movies have played a large role in adding to Alacatraz's mystique. And so people go there by the thousands and some among us may wonder ... could we survive the harsh regimen and maintain our sanity in a 5 X 9 foot cell with no possibility of ever having freedom again!?!!!

Tourist Mecca and Bird Breeding Grounds

Today, Alcatraz Island is part of the U.S. National Park System. Reachable by ferry or boat alone, it maintains it stoney and inhospitable appearance even as it draws you into the sphere of its fascinating past.

Note that during certain seasons some parts of the Rock are off limits. Today it is the home of species of birds whose nesting habits the Park Service tries to protect. So Alcatraz's life of usefulness has evolved in other directions.

Whether you visit by daylight or twilight, Alcatraz is fascinating and no visit to San Francisco would be complete without seeing it!

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Place of history & legends of the notorius
  • Cons:Some parts in need of restoration
  • In a nutshell:Fascinating!
  • Last visit to Alcatraz Island: Aug 2000
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (12)

Comments (28)

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Dec 24, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    We cruised around the Alcatraz Island, but at least we did all the touristy stuff. Planning a trip to revisit. Excellent page Sylvia, it brought back some great memories.

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Dec 24, 2014 at 9:52 AM

      Thanks for the visit and ratings, Dee. Alcatraz is a fascinating place!

  • blueskyjohn's Profile Photo
    Nov 24, 2014 at 3:16 AM

    Great information about Alcatraz! Thanks for sharing!

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Nov 24, 2014 at 6:45 AM

      Thanks for your visit and ratings, John. Would really like to go back to Alcatraz some day as our time there was a little short for a good exploration of the grounds.

  • hopang's Profile Photo
    Sep 5, 2013 at 9:44 AM

    Excellent Alcatraz Island travel page. We have read a lot about the island and has seen films both movies and documentaries. If we ever visit the city of San Francisco, we will not hesitate to visit Alcatraz Island. Thanks for your great virtual tour. ~ho & pang

  • wabat's Profile Photo
    Aug 14, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    Sylvia, excellent page and great detail in the tips.

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Aug 14, 2013 at 9:08 AM

      Thanks very much for visiting. (I wouldn't even have known you did except that I received the notice in my e-mail because nothing is showing up about it on my VT page itself!!)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2013 at 9:55 AM

    I have thoroughly enjoyed revisiting Alcatraz with you :-) We were fascinated by the experience, especially as we met a former inmate (now reformed) in person in the bookshop!

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Apr 23, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      Thanks, Sarah! I found Alcatraz to be fascinating too! Wouldn't mind going back sometime for a longer visit if we're ever in San Fran again, but there's so many new places I'd like to move on to. But, just back today from Bermuda once again thanks to an offer we couldn't pass up. See you have a new page which I'll visit very soon!

  • GentleSpirit's Profile Photo
    Mar 21, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Sylvia, an excellent page. We only saw alcatraz from afar when we visited the Bay Area long ago. Im glad you pointed out how real conditions and facts were different from the movies. Bien hecho!

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Mar 22, 2013 at 5:05 AM

      Thanks for visiting my Alcatraz page! You're right -- sometimes what's portrayed in movies is totally different from the reality of a place. Visiting Alcatraz in person was a real eye-opener!

  • MalenaN's Profile Photo
    Mar 15, 2013 at 10:42 AM

    Alcatraz sounds to be very interesting to visit so I can understand why so many visitors go there every year, But When I visited San Francisco a long, long time ago I never took the opportunity to go there.

    • starship's Profile Photo
      Mar 15, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      Hi Malena, how are you?? Thanks for stopping by! Alcatraz does have a lot of history, and they did a good job of turning it into a museum of sorts and it sure has great views of San Francisco and the Bay. The boat ride out is great too!

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Oct 2, 2011 at 1:58 AM

    Sylvia, this is an excellent page with lots of interesting information. I think the newish garden is nice.

  • HORSCHECK's Profile Photo
    Jul 4, 2011 at 10:28 AM

    Sylvia, fabulous little page with interesting info about this famous island. Well done.

  • mindcrime's Profile Photo
    Nov 16, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    great info here!


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