Alcatraz, also known as The Rock, is a small island in the heart of San Francisco Bay, which is about 1.5 miles away from the sights and sounds of one of the world’s most beautiful cities. It’s an amazing place that is worth visiting. While I was visiting this former prison, which is a museum nowadays, I had goose bumps the size of Everest! And it made me reflect on things, that perhaps if everyone had a chance to visit Alcatraz, enter a cell and solitary confinement, there would be less crime in the world. A fantasy? Maybe yes, maybe no…
In one of the pictures I am in a cell, and you can see that I have an uncertain look on my face. Definitely walking through the halls of a prison is a strong experience, let alone entering a claustrophobic cell. It’s a horrible feeling, trust me.
Being on The Rock, you can see how close San Francisco is, and probably that’s why there were 14 unsuccessful attempts to escape. It seems that this beautiful city is so close, within arms-length distance. However, freezing cold water and turbulent currents deter trying to swim and reach the shores of San Francisco. There are also sharks in the water. Apparently, the sound of fun, music and laughter coming over the water, were the most dangerous for the prisoners, because it seemed like it was just around the corner. They could see and smell the city. You can see San Francisco from Alcatraz perspecive on the first picture above.
Let me invite you for a walk on The Rock. There are descriptions in between the pictures, because of the large number of photos.
Enjoy the tour
After arriving to the dock, we started walking up to the cellhouse which is on the top of the hill. You can see the barracks/apartments where correctional officers and their families stayed. The apartment complex included a small market and a tiny post office.
We pass by the guardhouse and one of the guard towers.
Below you can see the officer’s club, which was the recreation place for employees and their families, including a dance floor, a gym and a bowling alley.
We entered the prison building.
Firstly the prisoners were stripped, searched, showered in an open shower room, and then handed a uniform.
The cells are very small, not even the size of outstretched arms. The size of a cell is: 5 feet wide, 9 feet deep and 7 feet high. There were 336 cells, and the average number of prisoners was 260, and the maximum was 302. The cells were equipped with a steel-frame cot with a thin mattress, a sink with a cold-water tap, a toilet with no seat, and a small table and seat that folded down from the wall. In those windowless cells, prisoners spent 16 to 23 hours a day. Even though the prisoners were alone in the cell, there was no privacy because the men from across the aisle could see you through the bars.
Prisoners dining hall and the kitchen
There is a lighthouse next to the cellhouse, and the lighthouse keeper lit the oil lamp in 1854 for the first time. It was the first lighthouse on the Pacific Coast.
Just next to the lighthouse, there is the burned out shell of the abandoned warden’s house, which was destroyed by fire in 1970.
As you walk around the island, you can see traces of ornamental gardens, particularly around the warden’s house, and on the western slope below the cellhouse. The plants provide food and shelter for mice, salamanders, and insects, which attract birds like: hawks, ravens, finches and hummingbirds.
Bye bye Alcatraz
P.S. Like this post? You will find more in the category TRAVEL.