Thursday: The Alcatraz Experience

By Samantha McGrath

“You have to makes choices always. It’s about the omission of something for the sake of another.” – Edward Zwick

One of our focus questions we were given to ponder was: What does freedom mean and who decides what form it takes? During the Alcatraz audio tour, the question “Where are you from?” came to mind, as one of the best-kept secrets of Alcatraz is that there was families that lived on the island. The families of the guards of the prison lived there and their children grew up there, taking a boat to school each day.

The audio tour stated that on New Year’s Eve, if the wind was blowing just right, those on the island could hear music and girls’ laughter over the water. To give you a sense of this place, both now and in times past, I created this short slide show:



“For most people, coming to terms with place is ultimately a personal matter. In many respects, place is also about relationships, both among people and between us and our experiences and associations with a particular time and space.”








  1. Sam – I loved your slideshow, even though I was there with you at the same time if gave me more of your perspective, and I think it will be very effective on helping readers who have never been there get a feel for what it is like. I would have liked a little bit more of your answer to the question you stated in your first paragraph, since I wasn’t really sure what your answer to that was. Also, do you think the families that lived on Alcatraz ever felt unsafe?


  2. Very nice slideshow! The photos really captured what it was like to be on the island and gave a perspective that some may not have seen. I wish there would have been narration discussing how you were impacted by the island visit or even commenting on the way the media has portrayed the island in contrast to what you saw. What aspect of the island interested you the most? If it was the family living, why was that interesting and what do you think it was like for the children to tell their peers they lived on Alcatraz?


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