Everyone knows Alcatraz, the famous high-security prison, where Al Capone was imprisoned. In 1861, the first prisoners from the Civil War were being housed on the island. The prison flourished with a steady flow of new inmates during the late 1920s and 1930s. The Great Depression became the root of a severe crime surge in America, which ushered in a new era of organized crime. Thanks to its location, Alcatraz was the most feared prison among gangsters. The institution was considered absolutely escape-proof because of the cold temperature, long distance to shore and the strong currents around the island. Several escape attempts ended fatally. Over the years, many of the inmates died, and the ones who did not, were driven mad by the busy San Francisco life that still remained visible in the distance. There were strict rules and regulations with punishments. The prisoners, who did not observe, were sent to Cell Block D, where they were punished by solitary confinement in dark cells and reduction of food. In 1963, Alcatraz closed because the penitentiary was too expensive to continue operating. After half a century of salt water saturation the buildings were eroded and the bay was being polluted by the sewage from the prison. In 1969, a group of Native Americans took over the island and claimed it as their own. Some buildings like the Warden’s House and the Social Hall burned down during the nineteen month long occupation. Today, Alcatraz is a National Park and tourist attraction.
I visited Alcatraz Island on a cold winter day and fell in love with the whole experience of entropy. Standing at the Parade Ground, you can feel the quite beauty and the history of this place. The foggy morning slowly gave way to a sunny afternoon. The most fascinating rooms in the prisons can be found in the old hospital, the ruins of the Warden’s House and in the long corridors of New Industries Building. There are many broken windows. Some are broken from exposure to the elements, others because they were shot at. I captured the atmosphere taking tons of pictures. The color scheme and scenery were just breathtaking.