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5 Fun Facts about Alcatraz

Posted by GrayLineofSanFrancisco on January 17, 2020

Alcatraz first opened its doors on August 11, 1934 at 9:40 AM and this was when the first prisoners arrived on its doorstep. There were 37 prisoners at the time that were just starting their journeys into this unforgiving prison with its ruthless history and distinction of presenting the best prison horror stories in the country!

Here are some fun facts that you may not know about Alcatraz. If you are planning a visit in the upcoming future, keep these facts in mind as you enjoy your tour and this exciting adventure!

1. Prisoners Built the Prison

The prison was built from the bottom up from a U.S. Army fortress that was left on the island when the army moved out. Military prisoners built the prison from 1909 up to 1911. When the military signed ownership of Alcatraz in 1933 over to the Department of Justice, it was ready to house the most notorious criminals in American history.


2. The Rock

Alcatraz was known as the Rock, which not only signified where it was located but also its strength as a prison and its hard and brutal reputation. It had a strict routine, which included providing the basics of medical care, clothing, shelter and food. Privileges outside of these basic boundaries were not available.

3. Warm Water Showers

Although it seems like it may be a bit of a luxury, the inmates were provided with warm water for bathing. The rationale behind it, however, was that the inmates would start to freeze quickly if they tried to escape in the frigid cold water surrounding the island.

4. Too Expensive

Eventually, the doors to Alcatraz closed permanently in 1963 because the maintenance of the facility became too expensive. The structures were being eroded by salt water and the buildings needed regular maintenance, which turned out to be unaffordable. At the time, in the 1950s, it was 3 times as expensive to keep an inmate at Alcatraz as it was to house one at another prison.

5. Gulls Everywhere

One of the things you will first notice when you take a tour of Alcatraz is the flocks of seagulls that have decided to take residence there. You'll also see a lot of other different bird species including 5,000 birds from nine various species.

Take a trip to see Alcatraz today to learn more about its amazing history and its outlook for the future!

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