Location: San Francisco Bay, CA
Notable Residents: Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Robert Stroud, James "Whitey" Bulger
Amenities: Take a dip in that frigid San Francisco Bay
Located just off the San Francisco Bay on Alcatraz Island, Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary lingers in the American imagination as one of the most famous and frightening prisons ever. Originally used as a military prison during the early 20th century, Alcatraz was snatched up by the U.S. Department of Justice in 1933. The island was acquired by the Federal Bureau of Prisons one year later.
Alcatraz was famous for acting as a home to inmates who caused problems at other prisons. Because it was located within the frigid waters and strong currents of the San Francisco Bay over a mile off the coast of San Francisco, Alcatraz was believed to be inescapable. That didn't stop people from trying, though: 36 prisoners attempted to escape 14 times, and two men tried twice. Twenty-three were caught, six were shot and killed, two drowned, and another five were listed as "missing and presumed drowned."
The most famous escape attempt came in June of 1962, when Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin executed one of the most in-depth prison breaks ever. While they managed to flee the prison, an official report says that they drowned in the cold waters of the Bay. This incident led to Alcatraz closing the following year, but memories haunt the prison—literally. The building is rumored to be haunted, though that hasn't stopped it from becoming one of San Francisco's biggest tourist attractions. Plus, it served as the backdrop for Michael Bay's best film, The Rock.