Thursday, November 4, 2010

Alcatraz Reflections: Crossing of Space and Time

The Alcatraz tour officially began in the shower room, where tourists can get audio tour equipments. After I quickly received the audio player, I sat down on a bench against the wall and stared at the shower stalls. After Jennifer acquired hers, she came and sat beside me on the bench. Suddenly, she almost jumped up from the bench in excitement and said: "Oh my god, Al Capone had probably sat on this bench once!" Then two thoughts immediately hit me. First of all, Jennifer's comment made Al Capone felt like a celebrity or someone with great significance. Alcatraz had held many notorious inmates. But I wondered, did the inmates become significant in the U.S. penal history because they had once stayed in the famous Alcatraz prison? Or did the inmates themselves make Alcatraz famous and world renowned? The other thing was, Jennifer's words did ignite some kind of excitement and interest in me, because I just fully realized that I was touring a place where used to be a true creepy prison! This seemingly obvious remark is easily forgotten when one is surrounded by crowds of
curious tourists and kind tour guides, bathed under the Californian Sun, and walked past the beautiful newly-planted flowers and trees on the island. But after my late realization, the empty cells, which I toured later, did give me goosebumps as I imagined real living humans being caged inside. It is still the same concrete and stones, except the time has changed. I stood inside the solitary confinement cell, and was truly amazed by the crossing of space and time.


1 comment:

  1. I was also amazed by how Alcatraz has changed over the years. Being there it was hard for me to imagine the island as a prison. I was trying to picture the inmates in the cells, in the recreation yard, and in the dining hall, but it was really difficult. All I could see were the many excited tourists, the carefully arranged and detailed cells, and the beautiful landscape. Nevertheless, part of me knew the entire time that several men suffered there and at times that gave me goosebumps.