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Alcatraz Prison

From 1932 to 1946, Alcatraz, a prison with special conditions, was a tough test for prisoners. Benefits and privileges for prisoners were introduced in 1950-1952. Until March 1962, the penitentiary remained the most expensive and extreme in the United States.

Where is Alcatraz prison and what is noteworthy about it?

View of Alcatraz
Alcatraz is a special prison on the island.

The famous correctional facility is located on Alcatraz Island (California, USA). “The Rock” (The Rock) is the prison’s middle name. The island is washed by the blue San Francisco Bay. A small part of the land is completely isolated from America.

The main feature of the penitentiary was that it was impossible to escape from the prison. The penitentiary served sentences for particularly dangerous gangsters, murderers, and rapists.

History of the prison complex

The federal penitentiary in California (USA) was built by prisoners on the site of a military fort in 1910-1912. In 1934, the institution was reconstructed, electricity was installed, new bars were installed, and irritant tanks were installed in the dining hall.

At the beginning of 1942, Block D was converted.

In 1958 a major overhaul of the main building was begun, but due to the large financial outlay the work was suspended. The penitentiary was closed in March 1963.

The most famous prisoners

Alcatraz was where they served their sentences:

  1. Prisoner No. 85 (Al Capone), convicted of tax evasion, was incarcerated from 1934-1939.
  2. Roy Gardner (“Escape King”) spent two years in prison. The bandit and raider was released from Alcatraz in 1936.
  3. George “Machine Gun” Kelly spent 17 years in the dungeons.
  4. Alvin Creepy Karpis has been at The Rock for 26 years.
  5. Henri Young (rapist and religious fanatic).
  6. Arthur “Doc” Barker (robber and murderer).
  7. Robert Stroud.
  8. Morton Sobell et al.
Celebrities who have been incarcerated on Alcatraz.

Regime of detention of prisoners

Prisoners observed the following daily routine:

  • 6:30 – rise;
  • 7:00 – cleaning the room;
  • 7:30-8:00 – breakfast;
  • 8:00-11:40 and 12:00-16:15 p.m. Work in the tailor shop and laundry;
  • 11:40-12:00 – lunch;
  • 16:45 – dinner;
  • 17:00-21:25 – stay in the cell;
  • 21:30 – lights out.

History of the Revolt

The Alcatraz uprising took place in May 1946. Coy, sentenced to 25 years in prison, took possession of the keys to the cell. Together with 2 inmates, he let 12 people out of their cells. As the legend goes, the prisoner managed to break into the warehouse and take possession of the weapons. However, the prisoners were not able to leave Block D.

A detachment of 30 Marines arrived to quell the riot. The operation to capture the fugitives lasted three days. The organizers of the escape were destroyed.

Prison Closure

The penitentiary was closed on March 21, 1962. The main reason for the elimination of the prison is the high cost of maintaining the prisoners, and problems with transporting drinking water and food from the mainland.

Businessmen offered to open a shopping mall in the empty prison building. However, the Indians resisted this and took over Alcatraz six months later. In June 1971 they left the island.

Structure of the Alcatraz prison complex

There are houses for guards and their families on the territory. There is a helicopter pad not far from the building. There are outbuildings along the road, and a clubhouse and infirmary nearby. Not far from the dining room there is an old lighthouse.

A 2-story complex was built near the prison building, including a furniture and sewing shop and a dry-cleaning room for clothes.

What the prison looked like

The walls of the building were 60 cm thick, the exit was closed by a steel door weighing 2,000 kg.

The builders erected six watchtowers and surrounded the walls with three rows of barbed wire. The single cells (2.7×1.5 m) were equipped with a sink, a toilet and a sleeping place.

On the two floors of the main prison block there were cells without doors. At the end of the corridor was a holding cell.

One cell per inmate.

The most memorable escape stories

During the 29 years of the prison’s existence, 14 escape attempts were recorded:

  1. On April 27, 1936, George Bowers climbed over the fence, but was wounded and died shortly thereafter.
  2. In December 1937, T. Cole and R. Rowe attempted to swim off the island but drowned during a storm.
  3. Т. Limerick and D. Lucas descended from the roof of the detention center and were detained.
  4. From May 1941 to September 1958 there were seven escape attempts.
  5. On December 16, 1962, F. Morris and the Engley brothers escaped from their cells through a corridor leading to the roof. They managed to swim away from the shore on a makeshift raft. Officially, the prisoners are considered missing.

Main attractions

The prison-museum is visited daily by tourists arriving by motorboat from San Francisco. From the pier to the west, there is a steep ascent to the base of the corner tower. Restoration work is underway in the prison fortress. Tourists see punishment cells, isolation cells, cells, canteen, etc.

The Rocks Museum features products made by prisoners: heads made of soap, hair, and wire, as well as binoculars, uniforms, spoons, chairs, dishes, etc.

Travelers are introduced to the lighthouse and bird sanctuary. The night tours include a visit to the dungeons and the hospital building.

The SHU in prison is hell on earth.

What became of Alcatraz today

“The Rock is part of the National Parks Authority of America. On the grounds of the former prison, athletes conduct the “Escape from Alcatraz” triathlon.

Participants swim from the island to the city, covering the distance in 47 minutes. The program also includes motorcycle races and long-distance running.

Excursions to Alcatraz

During the trip, travelers explore Barker Beach, the floating dock, the military chapel, the lighthouse, the staff quarters, etc. The gardens, beautiful flower beds, and lawns are well-deserved fame among travelers.

The pride of San Francisco residents is the museum located in the main prison complex. In a small room, travelers study documents about Indian life in America. Tourists get acquainted with the photographs, weapons of the wardens, and utensils of the prisoners.

Excursions to Alcatraz
Now the prison’s terrifying corridors are filled with tourists.

Cost and rules of attendance

Excursion services are included in the price of the trip. Children under 4 years of age are served free of charge. Tourists are offered a family package (2+2), but night tours are not provided.

The cost of the tour includes:

  • Transfer to the pier and ferry rides to the famous island;
  • 5-hour tour;
  • light snacks;
  • transportation to the hotel.

Tourists are advised to take drinking water and sandwiches on the road, study the history of the lighthouse, and watch the movie “Escape from Alcatraz. Hiking trails require good physical preparation.

How to get there

Motorboats depart from Pier 33 in San Francisco for the famous island. You can get to the pier by cab or bus.

Many tourists prefer the F mini Metro system line, which runs past Pier 33. The trip takes 32 minutes.

The San Francisco Pier 33 bus leaves from Market St & South Van Ness Ave every hour daily. In 17 minutes the transport arrives at The Embarcadero & Bay St.

Alcatraz on a map
The island can be reached by motorboats.

Interesting facts about Alcatraz

Remarkable information about the prison:

  1. The island gets its name from the colony of pelicans (Isla de los Alcatraces).
  2. In the 1960s and 1970s, there were protests by ethnic activists on the Rock.
  3. The prison inspired terror in many prisoners. Realizing what a life sentence could mean, they fell into insanity as a result of mental anguish. The suicide was committed by E. Watke (1937), R. Persful et al.
  4. The main role in the successful escape of F. Morris and the Engley brothers was played by a flaw in the structure of the outer walls of Block D. The concrete was of poor quality and contained many large stones. The cement mixture was poorly mixed, and under 70,000 feet of pressure, it crumbled. The sea air and salt water also affected the metal grids built into the walls of Block D.
  5. According to one version of the investigation, the raft with the fugitives overturned and they died. Another interpretation: the criminals were attacked by an animal weighing 300 kg (California sea lion).

A documentary about Alcatraz prison

Exciting documentaries were made about the famous “Rock: “Mysteries of History. The Disappearance of Alcatraz”, “Secrets and Conspiracies” (2014), “Alcatraz. A story for the most dangerous”, Alcatraz search for the truth, etc.

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