Which is the worst block in the prison

Scary Alcatraz - the end of the line for serious criminals

Info / recommendations | California | 11/12/2019 | Photo: Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

Alcatraz opened as an escape-proof "superknast" and ended as a dilapidated relic: In 1963 Alcatraz closed its doors. The worst criminals in America were held here for three decades. Today the prison island is one of the "Americas Most Wanted" attractions.


The prison island Alcatraz, also called "The Rock" and "America‘s Devil Island", belongs next to the Golden Gate Bridge to the most legendary sights of the city. The island is located in San Francisco Bay and is eight and a half acres, about 500 meters long and up to 41 meters high. Since many boobies nested on the island - Isla de los Alcatraces - the island was named Alcatraz at that time. However, due to rising operating costs, the prison was closed in 1963.

The history
In 1852, the first lighthouse in the entire American Pacific was built on Alcatraz Island. The lighthouse was supposed to show the arriving ships the way, because in the time of the gold rush (1848) many ships drove into the bay of San Francisco. Fort Alcatraz was built by the military between 1853 and 1859 and was first used as a prison for prisoners of war in 1861. Did you know that the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia partially served as a template for Alcatraz? Due to wear and tear, the prison had to be closed for the first time in 1903, although the new building had already been completed in 1911. In 1933 Alcatraz was converted into a maximum security prison and between 1933 and 1963 more than 1,500 inmates were incarcerated on the prison island. The average length of stay was ten years and during this time the inmates were completely isolated from the outside world. With a size of about 1.52 x 2.74 meters, the cells of the prisoners were equipped with a sink, a toilet and a bed. The prison regime was ruthless and drove inmates insane and suicidal. In 1963, however, the maximum security prison was closed due to rising costs and the island has been uninhabited since then.



Famous inmates
Many Alcatraz prisoners have become known for either their crimes or their spectacular escape. Probably the most famous mafiosi who ever sat in Alcatraz was Alphonse Gabriel "Al" Capone, also known as "Scarface". Al Capone was the number one public enemy of the United States and was convicted of tax evasion and the murder of seven people during the Valentine's Day massacre. Stroud, later known as "the bird man," was sentenced to twelve years in prison for the murder of a man who allegedly raped his girlfriend. He became famous for keeping 300 birds in his cell when he was originally held in Kansas. Albin Karpis, another public enemy of the USA, was called "Creepy" because of his flashy smile and was the one who was 26 years old for the longest time in Alcatraz.

Today's Alcatraz
Today "The Rock" lives mainly from its myth, famous for gangster stories and adventure thrillers with movie stars. In addition to the island itself, the cell block, the dining room and the prison hospital can be visited. The history of the legendary island comes to life through sound recordings in different languages ​​available in each room. With over a million visitors a year, Museum Island is one of the country's most popular tourist attractions.

Visitor information
The shipping company "Alcatraz Cruises" is the only provider to offer direct trips to the prison island. The departures start daily at 9:30 a.m. and then run every half hour throughout the day. The Alcatraz tour of the island takes place without a guide, but you can be accompanied by a German-language audio tour, which is already included in the entrance fee. It is advisable to book the tickets for a tour to Alcatraz as far in advance as possible, as it can happen during the main season that you will otherwise not receive any tickets. The following video of the shipping company heading for the prison island gives advice on visiting Alcatraz:



The island as a filming location
In addition to being a visitor attraction, Alcatraz is also a sought-after Hollywood backdrop. Films like "The Prisoner of Alcatraz" about the inmate Stroud from 1962, the 90s blockbuster "The Rock" with Nicholas Cage or "The Birdman" from 2015 with Michael Keaton have made the prison itself a Hollywood star. In addition, countless other films were shot on the infamous island, as well as TV shows and commercials found their background here. The Clint Eastwood hit "Escape from Alcatraz" (1979) about the spectacular escape of three prisoners in 1962 attracted a lot of attention alongside "The Rock".