Alcatraz Island began as a military fort, guarding the entrance to San Francisco Bay through the Golden Gate. It later became a military prison, and—finally—a U.S. Prison. Because it is essentially a large rock outcropping in San Francisco Bay, surrounded by water, it was virtually impossible to escape and served as the prison for some of history’s more violent and problematic prisoners.
Today, Alcatraz is part of the U. S. National Park system. As a historical destination, it has a fascinating history, told by the park employees there. As a photographic subject, it is engaging; particularly at night, with interesting architecture which is in various states of deterioration, and includes a full, working lighthouse.
Unlike modern U.S. Prisons, there is no wall or razor wire and there is one Guard Tower which gives a commanding view of the exterior of the entire facility.