Continuing the cycle of materials devoted to interesting places in USA, got to the legendary prison on the west coast of America, which everyone must have heard of - Alcatraz Island. Like another similar place that was talked about before (East Philadelphia Penitentiary), today the former prison is a public museum.
The island itself, which was originally used as defensive fort, but only after as a prison, was opened by the Spaniards back in 1775. Its name comes from La Isla de los Alcatraces - the island of boobies.
And here interesting fact: Gannets, according to ornithologists, never lived in this area, and the Spaniards apparently confused them with cormorants, which are really numerous here.
One of the reasons why the Alcatraz prison gained its fame and certain fame is due to its location. The island is located in the center of the bay, next to which there is a strong current with ice water, which provides isolation and "natural protection" from possible prisoner escapes.
From the island itself, which also has another name “Rock”, a gorgeous view of the “Disco City".
The prison history of the island starts at the beginning of the 20th century, initially as a military prison. The first prisoners were prisoners of war, participants in the Civil War. By 1909, the building of the protective fort and the prison was demolished and a new prison building was built in its place for 3 years, designed for the same purposes, but by 1920 there were practically no free places in Alcatraz.
In the period Great Depression in the USA, the prison becomes federal and all sorts of gangsters and mafiosi begin to be sent here. Among the most famous bandits, of course, it is worth mentioning Al Capone.
Alcatraz prison was known as a place of severe disciplinary punishments. Among the worst of them, according to the prisoners themselves, was the policy of silence, during which no one had the right to make a single sound.
Isolation with limited food was used - the prisoners were fed only bread and water, kept in absolute darkness and cold for several days. Many violators of the order were sent to hard work.
One of the main rules in the prison was the ban on the stay of prisoners in the cell during the day, with the exception of privileged and isolated prisoners.
But over time, the prison regime became softer. Prisoners were entrusted with housework for families living on the island, and some were even left to look after children.
A baseball field was built for the prisoners and boxing competitions were organized, to which civilian spectators were allowed. Educational programs and a reward system were developed, according to which the most obedient prisoners had their sentences reduced.
Closing and reconstruction of the prison
In 1934, Alcatraz was transferred to the Ministry of Justice due to the high cost of maintaining it. But it was not closed for long: due to an increase in crime, the prison had to be opened again. There has been a major building reconstruction for prisoners.
The cells became single, a punishment cell appeared, each prisoner had minimal privileges, the media and newspapers were banned.
All the service tunnels were walled up, steel bars were put on the windows, and light was put into each cell. Tear gas containers were placed in the dining room, where most fights took place.
Along the entire perimeter of the prison blocks, towers with gun galleries were installed for additional protection. The most dangerous prisoners were kept in Block D, it had stricter rules for confinement.
The most terrible punishment for the inhabitants of the prison was solitary confinement. It was a closed room of a small area, without windows and lighting, and instead of a toilet there was a hole in the floor. Came here for several days, almost without food and water.
Alcatraz prison was not sent immediately after the verdict, only prisoners sent by transfer got here.
One of the interesting stages in the existence of Alcatraz was the period from 1969 to 1970, when a group of Indians actually took over the island, establishing a specific community on it. The new inhabitants burned fires right in the buildings, painted the walls, and the inscriptions on the water tower have survived to this day.
The chances of escaping from Alcatraz, more than 2 km from the mainland, were negligible, but still attempts were made.
Those who managed to bypass the guards died in the icy water of the bay or were forced to return back. In total, about 15 attempts were made to escape.
The most famous escape from Alcatraz were made by Frank Morris, John and Clarence Anglin, who are still considered missing. Their escape was overgrown with legends that haunt historians to this day.
В 1963 year The prison was closed again, but this time for good. The lack of money to keep prisoners away from the mainland, as well as the need for expensive repairs, were the main reasons for this decision.
In 1971, the island was made part of the National Recreation Area. "Golden Gate", and after 2 years the prison became a kind of museum, which anyone can still visit.
This fact once again made me think about how Americans can make money on their attractions. Definitely, this experience is worth adopting and our countryFortunately, there are plenty of interesting places everywhere. If you are planning a trip to San Francisco, you can buy tickets to the island online.
You can get to this island in San Francisco Bay by ferry, departing from Pier 33 regularly, every 30 minutes.
If you plan to see all the sights in the city, then feel free to take City Card, there is a tour to the island included.