I’m pretty obsessed with history and the stories it tells. One of my absolute favorite things is exploring different historical sites. This was my second time at Alcatraz Island. The first time I was there I visited the Island at nighttime which added an extra layer of “spook” to the Island. You also get to see different rooms on the night tour then you do during the day. On my way back from Australia this past summer I just had to make a little stop in California to explore Alcatraz Island again – but this time, during the day! I booked my ticket months in advance, woke up bright and early and headed down to Pier 33 to hop on the first boat to the Island.
Did you know that Alcatraz was actually a Fort used during the Civil War? Among other things Alcatraz Island is most famous for being a federal prison from 1934 – 1963. If you were sent to Alcatraz it was more then likely because you kept causing trouble at another prison you were in. Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary was thought to be inescapable. It sits in the middle of the San Francisco Bay just 1.25miles off the coast but with the freezing temperatures of the water and the strong currents it was unlikely that you would survive swimming across. Of course there was definitely some escape attempts but to this day the penitentiary claims no one successfully ever made it off the Island while trying to escape, even though 3 people did go completely missing. During its 29 years in use Alcatraz held some of the most notorious criminals including : Al Capone, “Machine Gun” Kelly, Mickey Cohen & Robert Franklin Stroud, also known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz”. Eventually the cost of keeping an inmate on Alcatraz Island became too high and the worsening conditions of the environment didn’t help and the prison was closed.
When I arrived on the Island that morning I found out that an actual prisoner from Alcatraz was there that day. Inmate #1259 known in the real world as William Baker. and yea.. I was SUPER excited when I found this out! He was sent to Alcatraz Island in 1957 when he was just 23 years old. He spent four years of his life on the Rock and most of his life behind bars. While on the Island he learned how to make counterfeit payroll & corporate checks which would land him in and out of prison until 2011. He’s written a book about his time on the Rock. While I was there I took the opportunity to be able to meet him and chat with him. I am the proud owner of a personalized signed copy of Alcatraz 1259. You’ll find a picture of the two of us at the end of the blog.
I’m excited to be able to share some of Alcatraz Island with you. I’ll stop chatting now so you can enjoy the pictures! =)