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