Where's the Griffon?Do you know the name of the iconic San Francisco attraction pictured behind me in the photo? That island you see behind me is the famous Alcatraz Island! The island was originally discovered by a Spanish Explorer named Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775 who first christened the landmark “La Isla de los Alcatraces” or Island of the Pelicans. A fortress was then built on Alcatraz in the 1850s to protect San Francisco. Along with the fortress came the first ever operational lighthouse on the West Coast.
With its rough and cold waters, the military soon realized the potential for the island as an isolated prison, which became a reality in the late 1850s for prisoners of war as well as a number of American Indians due to their conflicts over land with the federal government. In 1933, the U.S. Department of Justice seized control of Alcatraz Island and transformed it into one of the most famous prisons in the U.S. This prison was built to house the most dangerous and difficult prisoners, some of which include famous names like Al “Scarface” Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz, and Robert Stroud, the “Birdman of Alcatraz.” While the prison was still operating, there were a reported total of there were 14 known attempts to escape from Alcatraz by 36 inmates.
Alcatraz closed its doors in 1963 and is now a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is a top tourist attraction in San Francisco. If you like history as much as I do, then be sure to put Alcatraz Island on your “must-see” list during your next trip to the city! Getting there is easy from the Hotel Griffon, just hop on a ferry, located walking distance from the hotel, and head straight to the island for a day of history and fun!