The CA Department of Corrections announced plans to reopen Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary as a fully operational prison pending final government approval. The site last served as a federal prison from 1934-1963, meaning that the news comes in the wake of the 60th anniversary of the famous prison’s closure.
If approved, the project’s timeline allows for a gradual slowing and closure of museum operations with renovation beginning in mid-2024. Multiple buildings on the island will undergo major overhauls ahead of an estimated opening date in 2027.
The plan includes infrastructure changes for the Main Prison building including reinforcement of the cell walls and air vents through which three inmates famously escaped in 1962.
Existing cell blocks will undergo plumbing, heating, and electrical upgrades, although the color scheme and other recognizable elements will be carefully reproduced as an ode to the island’s history. The National Parks Service will oversee these aspects of the historical restoration in order to preserve as much of the building’s character as possible.
Other transformations include the Guardhouse, which will become a processing area for new inmates arriving to the island, and the Parade Grounds, which will hold expansive vegetable patches for inmates to cultivate a supply of fresh produce. The Recreation Yard will be repaved and outfitted with a pickleball court.
Building 64, which is the three-story building visitors first see when stepping off the ferry, will house luxury apartments for prison guards and their families. Esteemed SF firm Feldman Architecture has drawn up sleek designs featuring a private beer garden and rooftop jacuzzi.
We contacted CA Department of Corrections Secretary Jeff Macomber for comment. He replied simply, “APRIL FOOLS!”
Yeah, if you’re still with us, none of this is happening… but thanks for sticking around till the end. Have a great rest of your weekend and maybe pop over for a visit to Alcatraz!