The history of buildings
2018

The Story and the Stone Surrounding Alcatraz

The Story and the Stone Surrounding Alcatraz
The Story and the Stone Surrounding Alcatraz

When you see the letter B, C and D associated with the origins of a historical building, it typically denotes an antiquated date from the BC era. This applies to most scenarios in the exception of the hollow halls of the old Alcatraz Prison. It is a general rule that people try to avoid seeing the inside of a Prison, however in the case of Alcatraz, visitors are lining up to get inside.

There are hundreds of Prisons around the world, yet none seem to bear the same notorious intrigue of Alcatraz. It could be the guest ledger  of the Prison or the enigmatic aura of the Island it sits on. Claims as “The Inescapable Prison” sounds like a phrase out of a good thriller novel piquing the interests of all walks of life.

Building Alcatraz

One of the things that make Alcatraz so noteworthy is the foundation of which it is built. Islands with Prisons are far and few in between across the map. While they are not an entirely unique concept, the mystery a Prison surrounded by crashing tides does make for a distinct image. Originally a War Fort, Alcatraz served as a base of sorts until it became the holding spot for convicted soldiers. It was these same men who laid the stone and sweat for the building that stands today.

Recent findings have indicated a trail of tunnels and structures underneath the Prison which are believed to exist from the original Spanish fortification. Above the remains are 336 cells that were designed to house the most nefarious criminals of the time. The main 3 of the four blocks divided the cells into B, C and D groupings. The A block was used for short periods of isolation versus long term seclusions. Underneath the A area is an inground space known as the Spanish Dungeon. When extreme actions took extreme measures, these dungeons were put to use. Guards who were interviewed stated they recall seeing prisoners handcuffed to the bars down below for incremental time periods.

Living Alcatraz

Living Alcatraz
Living Alcatraz

The average cell sizes were measured at 5 ft by 9 ft. Several spaces were used for the infirmary, storage places and offices aside from inmate locations. Out of the mainstream cell units, 6 were set apart for complete confinement and 36 were deemed as segregation cells. The Warden and staff resided on the Island with their families. A designated house for the Warden was situated adjacently to the Prison. Exterior buildings were turned into nice apartments that had access to a bowling alley, small convenience store and a number of amenities. A boat came to island several times a day allowing for additional time on the mainland for shopping and inland errands.

Alcatraz was commonly referred to as “The Rock”. The Prison is entirely made of stone from top to bottom. The Island beneath the structure is a plausible explanation for the nickname, yet for most you can only picture the eerie stone building looming over the water.

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