America’s # 1 tourist spot is a place no one ever wanted to be: Alcatraz

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What is a former federal penitentiary so attractive to tourists? Alcatraz beat the Golden Gate Bridge, the Lincoln Memorial and the Statue of Liberty to be selected as the # 1 monument in the United States in TripAdvisor’s recent Travelers’ Choice awards.

It was also ranked seventh among the most popular monuments in the world, between the spectacular Cathedral in Milan, Italy (No. 6) and the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro (No. 8).

For tourists, Alcatraz isn’t just a thing, either. San Francisco Bay Island is home to the first lighthouse built on the West Coast. The original was erected in 1854, but was destroyed in the earthquake of 1906. The new one with a concrete tower was completed in 1909 and automated in the 1960s.

It also attracts bird watchers (cormorants and gulls nest there) and those who wish to see the old cells and buildings when it was used as a penitentiary from 1934 to 1963. Alcatraz opened to the public a decade later under supervision of the National Park Service.

As for the rest of Travelers’ Choice, New York landmarks occupy half of the top 10 places in the U.S. rankings:

1. Alcatraz, San Francisco Bay

2. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

3. Lincoln Memorial and Reflective Pool, Washington, DC

4. The National September 11 Memorial and Museum, New York City

5. USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

6. Empire State Building, New York

7. Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor

8. Brookyn Bridge, New York

9. Grand Central Terminal, New York

10. Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

The first selection of favorite monuments in the world is Angkor Wat in Cambodia, followed by Machu Picchu in Peru and the Taj Mahal in India.

TripAdvisor selected 700 benchmarks in its review analysis over a 12-month period. The company applies an algorithm to its millions of reviews around the world to determine the winners.

For a full list go to The best TripAdvisor sites in the world.

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