Located in San Fransisco Bay, just 1.25 miles (2 km) offshore, Alcatraz was by far the most famous US prison and home to may notorious criminals such as Al Capone and Robert Franklin Stroud. And while many of us have seen numerous documentaries about The Rock, there are some facts that are not well known but are indeed, fascinating.
So here they are, 5+1 amazing facts about Alcatraz;
6. Hot Water Showers
Alcatraz was always offering hot water showers to its inmates. The logic behind it was that prisoners who were acclimated to hot water, would not be able to withstand the freezing Bay waters during an escape attempt.
5. Al Capone played banjo in the 4-man prison band
When he was transferred from Atlanta to Alcatraz in 1934 and after several attempts on his life, the notorious gangster was soon excused from going outside. To help him fight loneliness, his wife Mae, sent him a banjo. Eventually, Al Capone became so good at it, he was accepted at the inmate band, the Rock Islanders.
4. Alcatraz is named after pelicans
Alcatraz is the Anglicized form of Alcatraces which means Pelicans. Because the rocky outcrop was full of sea birds, Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala named it in 1775, “La Isla de los Alcatraces” (the ““Island of the Pelicans”), which soon became Alcatraz.
3. It’s possible to swim to the shore
Despite officials doubting that one could swim to shore across the 1.5 mile (2 Km) cold waters, it was indeed possible for someone to accomplish such an attempt. John Paul Scott did it in 1962 (police found him on the foot of the Golden Gate bridge) while today, hundreds of people complete the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon every year.
2. It had incredible food
While it was possible to swim to the shore, why would anyone want to do that when you can have (for free) Beef Pot Pie Anglaise on Tuesday, Baked Meat Croquettes on Wednesday, Bacon Jambalaya on Saturday and Pounded Beef Steal on Sunday?
Don’t believe me? Here’s the 1946 menu:
1. People believe it’s haunted
Even before becoming a federal prison in 1934, Alcatraz already had a reputation of being a bad place. Native Americans thought that evil spirits were “living” on the island while many inmates and guards reported experiencing something out of the ordinary. If you want to read about the legends of Alcatraz, i suggest reading this interesting article by Haunted Places.
If you like what you read, then you will definitely love this one: Inmate Discovers That The Key Pictured On His Prisoner’s Handbook Is Actually The Prison’s Masterkey
Main Article Photo: State Archives of North Carolina, “Alcatraz Island photo D Ramey Logan.jpg from Wikimedia Commons by D Ramey Logan, CC-BY-SA 3.0“
Photoshop: I’m A Useless Info Junkie
Sources: The Greatest Escape from Alcatraz | 10 Things You May Not Know About Alcatraz | THE HAUNTING OF AL CAPONE | What Prisoners Ate at Alcatraz in 1946: A Vintage Prison Menu