Alcatraz Island is approximately one and a half miles off the coast of San Francisco, California. In the 1850s the rugged island was used for military purposes and became home to the very first lighthouse on the West Coast. The first prison was established on the island in the late 1850s. Originally, the U.S. Army held military prisoners during the American Civil War and Spanish-American War. In the early 1900s, there was enough manpower to construct a new prison. The 600-cell prison, which is known today as Alcatraz, was finished in 1912 and still stands today. The U.S. Army gave the U.S. Justice Department the rights to Alcatraz in 1933. Alcatraz became a maximum-security prison on July 1, 1934, and housed some of the most notorious inmates like Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz. Today, visitors can step foot on Alcatraz and learn about the history of one of the most famous prisons in the United States. According to British Airways High Life: The Original Guide to San Francisco, seeing Alcatraz is an “unmissable sight.”


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 24: A view of Alcatraz Island during Alcatraz City Cruises’ celebration in partnership with the National Parks Service of the 50th Anniversary of Alcatraz Island opening as a National Park on October 24, 2023, in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Araya Doheny/Getty Images for Alcatraz City Cruises)



Second, the prison started crumbling from the harsh salt water. The upkeep of the facility became too much for the U.S. Justice Department to justify. When Alcatraz closed its doors in 1963, there was said to be $3-5 million dollars in maintenance work that would have to be done for the prison to stay open safely. The federal government concluded that it would be cheaper to build an entirely new federal prison instead of paying for the operating and maintenance costs   of Alcatraz.

Many believe that the decision to close the prison was due to the disappearance of the three prisoners who escaped the island. Morris and the Anglin brothers planned a detailed escape and did make it off the island, but their bodies were never discovered. They created paper mache heads with real human hair to fool the night guard when doing a room check and made makeshift life preservers by carefully stitching together more than fifty raincoats. Later magazines were found in their cells revealing that this was where the idea was born. During the escape, the men wriggled through a chiseled shaft onto the roof and down a pipe. They climbed two barbed wire fences and placed the boats into the waters. They were never found and presumed dead. This trio was the most famous escape attempt and from this escape, the movie, Escape From Alcatraz debuted in 1978. Interestingly, two inmates escaped before these three and were captured. Seven inmates were shot and killed trying to escape. Two drowned and five are presumed drowned.


SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 24: A view of Alcatraz Island during Alcatraz City Cruises’ celebration in partnership with the National Parks Service of the 50th Anniversary of Alcatraz Island opening as a National Park on October 24, 2023, in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Araya Doheny/Getty Images for Alcatraz City Cruises)



















アルカトラズシティクルーズ ツアーオプション


The Alcatraz Day Tour includes a ferry ride to and from Alcatraz Island, along with plenty of time to explore the island for yourself! Visitors can take time exploring “The Big Lockup: Mass Incarceration in the United States,” a permanent exhibit that explores the history of Alcatraz and the incarceration rate of the United States, which is the highest in the world. Visitors will also get access to many historical outdoor spaces like the Recreation Yard and the Rose Garden. If visitors keep their eyes open, they may even be able to spot the political messages that were left behind in 1969 by the Native Americans who occupied the island for a few short years.