The Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is one of the most infamous prisons in the US and the most terrifying and manipulative inmates were transferred there in order to make it impossible for them to escape or to “grease the pockets” of the guards in order to provide them with services. Most of you might know that the most famous person to get locked up in Alcatraz is none other than Al Capone who was the biggest mobster to ever live. However, there are many other interesting facts about the “unbreakable” prison that will send chills down your spine.
20. Last Words
As previously noted, Al Capone was locked up in Alcatraz and when he saw just how strict the rules were and that the guards were not going to be persuaded at all, the mobster looked at the Warder and told to him: “It looks like Alcatraz got me licked”.
19. The Real Name
What many people don’t know about Alcatraz is that the prison is that it actually had a different name at first. The prison was dubbed as “Isla de Alcatraces” which translates to “Island of the Pelicans” in English.
18. Fresh Water
Even though Alcatraz might be an island that is surrounded by water, there is no source of fresh water. The government had to bring more than one million gallons of water to the island by boat every single week. Not just that, but the food and other supplies were also brought by boat which made running the prison quite expensive.
17. John and Clarence Anglin
John and Clarence Anglin are two brothers who escaped from Alcatraz. Even though it was reported that they drowned in the bay, their mother still received a large bouquet of flowers from an anonymous address on every Mother’s Day. Did the two brothers actually make it?
16. Strict Rules
Alcatraz was infamous for its strict rules and prisoners were allowed to receive visitors only once per month! Not just that, but all conversations between prisoners and their loved ones were closely monitored. If a prisoner broke a rule, then he would not be allowed to have visitors ever again.
15. Military Fort
One of the most interesting facts about the infamous prison is that it used to house a military fort back in the early 1850s. The island was packed with cannons and rifles in order to discourage enemy forces from attacking San Francisco.
14. Playing Music
As you can imagine, being stuck on an island with hundreds of inmates can get quite boring. This is why no one should be surprised to find out that Al Capone joined the local band and played the banjo for them.
13. Small Rooms
Even though most prison cells are small, the ones in block B and C of Alcatraz were really tiny. The dimensions of the cells were 5ft by 9ft which meant that the prisoners didn’t even have enough space to lay down on the floor. After all, this is a prison that we are talking about and it shouldn’t be comfortable.
12. Hard Work
One of the most interesting things that happened in Alcatraz is the fact that inmates had to work every day and most of them spent their time building the actual prison. Alcatraz was built from 1909 to 1911 and the entire workforce was mode from prisoners.
11. Safe Space
This might be a bit hard to believe at first, but some prisoners actually wanted to be transferred to Alcatraz. Since the rules were so strict, Alcatraz was a safe place and prisoners who got in trouble with gangs asked to be transferred over to Alcatraz so that no one could hurt them.
10. Breaking Free
The reason why Alcatraz is such an infamous prison is that breaking free is nearly impossible. Even though prisoners might somehow jump over the walls, they still needed to swim across the bay which is freezing cold and according to legend, also filled with sharks.
9. Slim Chances
Even though the chances of breaking free from Alcatraz were slim, more than 36 men tried to do it in the 29 years that the prison was open. Only two of them are believed to have truly escaped and we mentioned them earlier in our list.
8. Playing Softball
Since there wasn’t that much to do in prison, the inmates started playing softball. However, this didn’t turn out too well since the games raised the tension between the inmates and back on May 20th 1956, two softball teams started fighting each other with makeshift weapons.
7. Family Home
One of the strangest facts about Alcatraz is that guards brought their families over to the island and they lived there. The island had a former Civil War barracks where the families of guards lived peacefully.
6. Death Row
Even though there are many rumors which say that Alcatraz had a death row for prisons who received the death penalty, this wasn’t actually the case. The isolated prison didn’t have a death row and it was actually quite rare even for the prisoners to be attacked and die because the rules were so strict and no one wanted to break them.
5. Discovering the Island
Who do you think discovered the Alcatraz island? You might be surprised to find out that Spanish explorers were the ones to do that and they discovered the island back in 1775 and named it “Isla de los Alcatraces”.
4. Total Number of Prisoners
Even though Alcatraz was open for 30 years, it didn’t actually hold that many prisoners. A total of 1,576 men were held in Alcatraz over the prison’s entire duration.
3. Shutting Down
Do you remember how we told you that the government had to bring all the supplies, including fresh water, over to the island by boat every week? This made keeping the prison open super expensive and it’s the reason why Alcatraz was shut down.
2. The Lighthouse
Many people don’t know this but the lighthouse built on Alcatraz is actually the first lighthouse on the West Coast. The lighthouse was built back in 1854.
1. Hot Showers
The last fact that we want to leave you with is also one of the most interesting ones. Alcatraz was one of the first prisons to offer hot showers to inmates and the reason behind this is quite strange. The Warden wanted to make sure that the inmates are used to being hot so that they couldn’t cope with the frigid waters of the Bay and try to run away.