An island far from paradise

As we cruise towards the giant rock that lies 1.5 miles off San Francisco’s shoreline, it’s hard to imagine Alcatraz was once home to a string of America’s most hardened criminals.

If it wasn’t for its global notoriety, from the shore it could easily be missed. Dismissed as an unfriendly rock scarring the horizon; ignored by tourists pounding the pier with their eyes glued to the mass of barking sealions.

Unfortunately, that’s a privacy The Rock can’t enjoy. Instead, tourists are ferried every 30 minutes to explore the legendary island, step into the cell of Al Capone and get a glimpse of life inside the infamous prison.

Despite being declared a National Historic Landmark and boasting a flurry of exciting flora and fauna, Alcatraz is without question the perfect place to house a prison.

Cold and grey, harsh winds whip from every side and the fog wraps itself tightly around the island’s sharp shell.

Towering walls, menacing layers of mesh and twisting snarls of barbed wire guard gloomy concrete buildings that house row after row of tiny cells that don’t offer even a glimpse of the glow of life from near by San Francisco – a city so close yet so far away.

Crumbling buildings pay testament to the island’s lengthy military history that preceded its role as home to a host of infamous inmates.

And the looming shadow of the island’s only water tank is a reminder of its hostile, barren roots.

Alcatraz is an island you really wouldn’t want to find yourself stranded on.

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4 thoughts on “An island far from paradise

  1. I read somewhere that Alcatraz was for a long time the only prison where inmates had a hot shower. This was not due to kindness, but to the thought that, this way, they would not get used to cold water, thus making it more difficult to escape… cunning supervisors!

  2. Nice photos, I’m from just north of SF and remember visiting Alcatraz when I was a kid. I always imagine what the bay was like when it was populated by miwoks, before it was settled / colonized by white people…

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