It has witnessed one of the most daring prison escapes in history but now Alcatraz is facing an entirely new problem it is struggling to cope with – people trying to break IN to the jail.
Fans of the Fox TV show ‘Alcatraz’ have been joining official tours then going off on their own to find a secret bunker which has been featured in the show. The catch is that the bunker does not exist meaning visitors have been left wandering in parts of the facility which could be dangerous.
The National Parks Service, which maintains the San Francisco site, has been forced to put up a sign which reads: ‘The TV show Alcatraz is fictional, many areas it depicts are not real. ‘Closed areas protect you, historic structures and nesting birds.’ What fans are after is the ‘bat cave’ like control room featured in the TV series, which only began last week.
But National Parks Service spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet said that even though it has only just begun to be shown on TV, a throng of visitors have already begun disobeying instructions to stay on the marked paths. Alcatraz is a former federal prison which used to house some of America’s most dangerous criminals including Al Capone and James ‘Whitey’ Bulger.
Built in 1934, it saw 14 escape attempts before it was closed down in 1963 and later turned into a tourist attraction. Only five people could have escaped ‘The Rock,’ as it was known, although none of them may have lived to tell the tale.
The first escape was in 1937 when inmates Theodore Cole and Ralph Roe filed through the bars in the prison mat shop and jumped into the water on a foggy day. The consensus was they had drowned but they were still put on the FBI wanted list at no.1 and no.1
The most famous escape however was in 1962 when prisoners Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin made their getaway. They spent six months hatching the plan which was amongst the most cunning in prison history.
The trio stole kitchen implements then used them to chip away a hole at the back of their cells late at night when nobody was looking. As they escaped they put fake heads made of newspaper and soap they had mocked up in their beds to make it look like they were still sleeping.
The men then shimmied up some pipes in the utility corridor behind their cells, out onto the roof and down to the water where they floated off using a boat and life rafts fashioned from stolen prison rain coats. Before the current TV series Alcatraz has been the subject of two Hollywood films: the 1996 Sean Connery action movie ‘The Rock’, and the 1979 Clint Eastwood thriller ‘Escape from Alcatraz’, which is about the 1962 escape.