The Rock, Devil’s Island and The Ring of Fire. They are nicknames of Alcatraz, the island for the coast of San Fransisco. Altcatraz is Spanish for pelican, which refers to the birds that used to inhabit the island. In the 19th century Alcatraz was used as a lighthouse, military fort and later as a military prison. In 1907 the rock was transformed into a federal prison. Its isolation earned it world fame and made it (nearly) impossible to escape. The high-security prison was in use until 1963. Many notorious criminals spent their days on this prison island. Alphonso ‘Al’ Capone, George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly and Robert ‘Birdman’ were among the inmates. They spent most of their day in bare cells with only a bed and a toilet. Nowadays the former criminal’s complex is a national park with a visitor’s centre and a museum.
It’s possible to take an Alcatraz tour. You can choose a day or a night tour. Alcatraz Island is run by the National Park Service (NPS), the American organization that manages national parks and monuments. You can buy tickets on Alcatraz Island’s website. The price includes a fantastic audio tour. It is recorded by former inmates and guards that were actually on Alcatraz. You hear both sides (prisoners and guards) of things that went down on the island, like attempted escapes, (food) fights and what is was like to be in solitary confinement. Of course the tour takes you to along Alcatraz’ highlights like the cell blocks and the yard, that show up in several movies. Embark the ferry and visit this gloomy prison complex.