"Once a prison, always a prison" Top 5 Page for this destination Alcatraz Island by goingsolo

Alcatraz Island Travel Guide: 116 reviews and 191 photos

The history

You are entitled to food, clothing, shelter and medical attention. Anything else you get is a privilege.
Alcatraz Prison Rules and Regulations.

Alcatraz is mostly known for the brief time when it served as a federal prison for notorious criminals such as Al Capone and for the unruly others who were also transferred to this island. In fact, Alcatraz was a prison long before this time, used to house military prisoners during the civil war. The island also served as a fort to guard the San Francisco Bay area and was regarded as a crucial defense area during the civil war. The fort concept was abandoned in the early 1900s and left abandoned until 1934, when the federal government reopened Alcatraz as a maximum security prison. In the nearly 30 years when the island operated as a prison, some 1,500 men served time on Alcatraz, usually for periods of five to eight years.

Alcatraz became known through myth and legend as the dark hellhole from which many died trying to escape. While some did try, and some of those attempted escapees did, in fact, die in the process, the myths of Alcatraz are darker than the realities. At least, that's what the National Park Service says.

In the 1960's, Alcatraz was closed as a prison. It is debatable as to whether this was done because the government felt it did not serve a rehabilitative purpose or whether it was simply too expensive to keep it running. But, for whatever reason, prisoners were shipped elsewhere.

In the later years of the 1960's, Native Americans attempted to occupy Alcatraz and even attempted to buy it from the federal government. This plan eventually lost momentum and, once the Native Americans left or were removed, the government began bulldozing the buildings of Alcatraz. Congress put a stop to this in 1972 when it declared Alcatraz part of the newly created Golden Gate National Recreation Area and gave control of the island to the National Park Service.

Due to myths, legends and movies, Alcatraz has become extremely popular and is considered the most visited national park property. Tickets sell out faster than you can say "The Rock" and large numbers pile onto ferry boats, seemingly excited to tour what is, in actuality, a dark and deserted prison. Whether the myths are true or not, Alcatraz is a dark and cold place. Visiting Alcatraz is interesting and chilling at the same time. After all, it is a prison, and one commissioned to isolate offenders and cut them off from any semblance of society.

But Alcatraz is an interesting place to visit. The films and tours describe, at times in the perviously recorded words of its former residents, what it was like to live there. Walking through the prison and hearing the well presented audio tour almost gives the impression of being an inmate. Its scary yet fascinating at the same time.

I'll try to walk you through the tour of "The Rock" and provide some background information, as well as some impressions, of my time on Alcatraz.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Interesting historic landmark and informative tour.
  • Cons:A dark and cold place teeming with curious tourists.
  • In a nutshell:Worth a visit for many reasons.
  • Last visit to Alcatraz Island: Jul 2005
  • Intro Updated Jul 9, 2005
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Reviews (26)

Comments (5)

  • alfredop's Profile Photo
    May 27, 2006 at 8:47 AM

    Wow! I'm sorry I missed this place!! tickets were sold out for a week in advance! Great work in your pages!

  • Bavavia's Profile Photo
    Aug 13, 2005 at 11:44 AM

    Great photos of inside Alcatraz. Seems like an interesting place to visit. Hard to imagine anyone having to live in the tiny cells

  • Barbie2138's Profile Photo
    Aug 6, 2005 at 8:34 AM

    What a 'unique' page......How is my old hometown these days???? Miami...NOT ALCATRAZ!!!!!

  • Stephen-KarenConn's Profile Photo
    Jul 13, 2005 at 8:19 PM

    Outstanding coverage of "The Rock." Fascinating detail - very well written.

  • madamx's Profile Photo
    Jul 13, 2005 at 6:46 PM

    Very good and accurate detail of Alcatraz; just looking at your pictures reminded me how fascinating and creepy it was. One of my favorite SF sites!


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