Alcatraz - Alcatraz information and pictures

Situated in the San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz is a small island and the site of a US built military fortification, a lighthouse, and the infamous maximum-security prison Alcatraz, which gave prisoners cold sweats.

The island is known for the first US West Coast fort, built in 1895, which served as a holding pen for court-martialed persons, insubordinates, and Civil War deserters. Among the prisoners here were Hopis who were opposed to sending their children to government-run boarding schools, in which practicing the Hopi religion and speaking Hopi was punishable. Briefly occupied by American Indians in the 1960s, the island is known for Indian activism and public protests. In 1986, Alcatraz was proclaimed a National Historic Landmark and is open to tours.

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area currently features an exhibit, named ‘The Rock’. The extensive collections showcase historic documents and photographs, objects that were made by notorious prisoners, inmate artwork, escape materials, as well as correctional materials used by the officers. Tourists can take a virtual tour of the Alcatraz prison, with sound clips, slide shows, and close-ups of infamous inmates like Robert Stroud and Al Capone. Other infamous prisoners were Alvin "Creepy Karpis" Karpowicz, who spent the longest time here, and Rafael Cancel Miranda, who attacked the US Capitol Building.

Alcatraz is not only the site of the infamous penitentiary but a premiere spot for bird lovers who want to view colonial nesting seabirds. The Western cliff tops and cliffs, for example, are roosting and nesting sites for a number of seabirds, including Western Gulls, Heermann’s Gulls, cormorants, and pigeon guillemots. Visitors can occasionally see harbor seals on the small beach found at the base. If you are a visiting bird lover, you will need binoculars and a boat because many birds nest on inaccessible rocks. Despite this, you can see nesting, mating, and parenting behaviors close up. There are also tide pools that were created by quarrying activities. The tide pools contain still unidentified marine algae and invertebrate species. The island’s flora is also remarkable. You can observe species of geraniums, succulents, and roses among the fig and apple trees, as well as native grasses, gardens of cutting flowers, and banks of sweet peas.

The island is also a great place to visit with your children who will enjoy the views of the surrounding islands, towns, and bridges, the abundance of flowers and of course, the ferry ride. Keep in mind that food service is not offered on the island. You can take only bottled water beyond the dock. You cannot take pets on the island with you, except for trained service animals. Purchasing tickets in advance is strongly recommended, especially near holidays and during the summer.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island

Please help us build a better site. Add your comments about Alcatraz here.

User Comments about Alcatraz