For many, Alcatraz will forever be remembered for its short spell as a United States Federal Prison and the notoriety of some of the prisoners: Al Capone, Robert Stroud ‘The Birdman of Alcatraz’, Machine Gun Kelly and Alvin Karpis to name a few.
There is much more to the island, however, since it was originally a lighthouse then a military post until 1933 (when it became a federal prison) and Native Americans occupied the island between 1969 and 1971. The island then became a Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the wildlife that had abandoned the island began to return, along with millions of visitors. Guided tours are the best way to see the island, just remember to wear comfortable walking shoes and take extra layers as Alcatraz can be cold and is quite hilly. Alcatraz Cruises provide the transport to the island and it’s worth booking some way in advance, as spaces are limited.