Souls on the Swim from Alcatraz

Collection: Swim to Alcatraz – Legend (ghost)

After being asked about city folklore, the informant described some of San Francisco’s urban lore. On the ferry ride over to San Francisco’s Alcatraz, a former prison, the informant was told that the water surrounding the island is full of sharks, as well as with the souls of those who attempted to escape.

Context: Alcatraz is located on an island just outside of San Francisco. Presently, it is a common tourist attraction with guided tours, ferry rides, and more. The informant has relatives who reside in San Francisco, therefore she is tied to that specific city lore. This story would be told when referencing Alcatraz as means of entertainment or information.

Interpretation: The informant’s reference to a soul or spirit is especially interesting because it also resonates with folklore in tourism. Folklore can be and is often incorporated into tourism to give visitors a sense of “authenticity.” In this case, the city lore, or legend, grants access to San Francisco exclusivity. Also, this narrative includes the common folk belief of a “soul” which alludes to the United States’ belief in spirits and ghosts despite differing influence from some religions and the government.