My destination today: The Rock. A.K.A. THE prison of all prisons where the worst of the worst were sent from 1934 to 1963 … Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.
We’ve heard the legends, the facts, and the images that offer a historical value in American history. From military use, the penitentiary, the Indian takeover, and now a part of the National Park System; this little island has been through the best and worst of times.
I went to Alcatraz remembering the gangsters and movies filmed on the island that make it such an infamous place.
Interestingly enough, I’ve never put a lot of thought into what it was before, during, or even after until today.
Walking in with a blank canvas, unaware of what was fact and what was fiction gave me a great open space to view and absorb the island and it’s buildings as they are currently existing.
Much like my experience at Waverly Hill, I found this island to be beautiful and haunting.
The romance of the history within the walls of the cell house will draw you in. But once you’re there, you’re reminded that it was a prison and this historical and entrancing building was viewed as a horrific space by the people that were held in the cells within them; “hell” to be exact, as quoted by a former inmate.
I took the audio guided tour which takes you throughout the cell blocks and even into the administrative offices which brought you to the wardens office and guided you outside by his house.
Which also has some of the best views of San Francisco.
How can one place be full of so much sadness and darkness but live to tell its tales?
The narrative I chose to take with me is one of hope because I found beauty in the space that used to be viewed as “hell” for some.
No matter how bad anything gets, I believe that beauty can always be found in those dark places when we allow the light to come back in.
When we’re open with ourselves and others we are able to learn from our past which cultivates to a better and more beautiful future.