Alcatraz. One of the most popular prisons in the country. While no doubt the name congers up images of daring prison escape movies thanks to Hollywood, the island was considered one of the most secure prisons due to the ever high tide and currents which would inhibit most from trying to make it to the shore of San Francisco. The island was first established in June 1846 for a lighthouse (that lighthouse being now the oldest lighthouse on the west coast) and then became a military defense fort then a military prison, and then ended up as the notorious prison that we know today in October 1933. Many of the countries most famous criminals passed through here in the 29 years of operation. And while prisoners did not exactly call Alcatraz home, they set up their cells with personal items, art, books, pictures to at least give them some feel of their life outside the walls of the prison. Even though the city was only a couple miles away from the prison, it probably felt like an entire world away while they made it through their days in the prison. The prison was closed was closed for good in 1971 and was made a National Historic Landmark a few years later. To this day it is one of the top sights to see when in the Bay area, bringing hundreds of tourists to Pier 33 to catch a ferry over to the island.