My Visit to Alcatraz Federal Prison

Alcatraz, AKA “The Rock”

I used to visit San Francisco as a child with my family. As many times as I’ve gone, I have never gotten to see Alcatraz. I was so happy when Alcatraz Cruises offered me this amazing opportunity. Visiting Alcatraz is just something you have to do when you’re in San Francisco. I was amazed and surprised by all of the little gems and interesting facts I learned along the way. I don’t want to give everything away, but I do want to share some of the cool things I learned.

Famous Inmates

Al Capone: he spent the last bit of his prison stay for tax evasion at Alcatraz Island. He was transferred from Atlanta after accusations arose that he was living a “cushy” prison life. His cell was carpeted, he had many guards working for him and his own personal bedding. He was released early from Alcatraz for being a model prisoner.

Machine Gun Kelly: he was sentenced to life for the kidnapping of oil Tycoon, Charles Urschel. He was one of the first groups of prisoners to be on the island. Oddly enough, he took a gig as an altar boy in the prison chapel and worked laundry duty. He also held an office administrator job for quite some time.

James “Whitey” Bulger: he was transferred to Alcatraz after plotting a prison escape attempt in Atlanta, where he was serving time for armed robbery. He spent three years there before being released in 1965. He’s currently in prison serving a life term for various crimes including murder. However, before his arrest in 2011, he evaded authorities for over 16 years. Whitey actually liked Alcatraz and had lots of fun memories of his time there. He even visited Alcatraz as a tourist while he was on the run from police!

James "Whitey" Bulger visits Alcatraz while on the run from the FBI
Photo: courtesy of CNN

Alcatraz: the Beautiful Prison

One of the things that surprised me the most about Alcatraz was the fact that there was still so much life! Specifically all of the beautiful birds and plants. The plants were so abundant and I was not expecting the island to be so beautiful. I visited during nesting season for the birds so I was lucky enough to see birds all over the place on this island they have completely to themselves. The water surrounding Alcatraz, and the views of San Francisco was very peaceful.

Beautiful Plant Life on Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Views

You MUST Experience This for Yourself

There was so much that I learned when I went on this adventure. We all know Alcatraz to be a former penitentiary, but it actually wasn’t always a prison! Alcatraz is definitely an experience that you won’t forget. Alcatraz Cruises offers lots of different tour options–even night tours! The staff is friendly, fun and helpful. If you have any historic questions, they know their stuff! I learned from the staff that there are still five missing inmates who escaped, and were never found. They are still wanted, and will remain wanted until 2022.



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