- Early Years as a Military Prison. In 1775, Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala (1745-97) mapped and named rugged...
- Doing Time as a Federal Prison: 1934-63. In 1933, the Army relinquished Alcatraz to the U.S. Justice Department, which...
- Famous Inmates. Among those who did time at The Rock was the notorious Prohibition-era gangster Al “Scarface” Capone,...
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Alcatraz Island, also known as ‘The Rock,’ a rocky island in San Francisco Bay, off the coast of California, in the United States. From 1934 to 1963, a facility on the island served as a federal prison for some of the most dangerous civilian prisoners. Learn more about the history of Alcatraz Island here.
Feb 12, 2020 · The Fascinating History of Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz has a many-layered history: Civil War fortress, military prison, federal prison, bird sanctuary, first lighthouse on the West Coast, and the birthplace of the American Indian Red Power movement: These are just a few of the fascinating stories of the Rock. Alcatraz Island is a designated National Historic Landmark for its significant contribution to the nation's history.
Alcatraz Island is located in San Francisco Bay, 1.25 miles offshore from San Francisco, California, United States. The small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison, and a federal prison from 1934 until 21 March 1963. The water currents around the island were high at all times, which presumably decreased the chance of an inmate escaping. Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of Native Ame
Despite the legends of evil spirits, Alcatraz was also used by the Indians as an area for food gathering, especially bird eggs and sea-life. The first Europeans to visit the island were the Spanish in 1769, who named it “Isla de Los Alcatraces,” or “Island of the Pelicans,” for its large pelican colony.
Welcome to Alcatraz History Alcatraz History was designed to help introduce you to the rich history of Alcatraz during the penitentiary years and many of the convicts who called “the Rock” home. From the 1934 until 1963, Alcatraz was America's premier maximum-security prison, the final stop for the nation's most incorrigible prisoners.
- Escape from Alcatraz. Alcatraz Island has been used as a site for several films including: Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), The Enforcer (1976), Escape From Alcaltraz (1979), Murder in the First (1995), The Rock (1996), Catch Me If You Can (2002), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), and The Book of Eli (2010).
- ALCATRAZ HISTORY.
- Alcatraz Discovery. The island was first documented in 1775 by Spanish explorer, Juan Manuel de Ayala. Juan Manuel de Ayala had mapped the San Francisco Bay and called this particular island “La isla de los alcatraces”, meaning “Island of the Pelicans”, because the Island was home to large colonies of brown pelicans.
- Alcatraz Military Outpost. In 1846, John C. Freemont, Military Governor of California, purchased Alcatraz Island on behalf of the United States Government from Mexican Governor, Pio Pico, for $5,000.
- There have never been any confirmed prisoner escapes from Alcatraz. This one shocked me! With the popularity of the 1979 movie, Escape from Alcatraz, about a group of three men who used spoons to escape “The Rock,” I’m positive I’m not the only who believed this myth.
- The island was home to prisoners as early as the 1850s. When San Francisco was put on the map during the Gold Rush of the 1840s, Alcatraz was used for military prisoners.
- It is technically possible to swim to shore. In 1962, one inmate managed to squeeze through a window and swim to shore. Unfortunately, he was so tired by the time he reached land, that the police found him lying unconscious at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.
- At any given time, there were about 300 civilians living on Alcatraz that included both women and children. The families of the guard staff lived on the island, of course.
Mar 20, 2013 · The following is a timeline of Alcatraz history, with information provided by the park service. 1853 — U.S. military begins construction of a fort on Alcatraz Island to defend San Francisco Bay. It...
Alcatraz Early Years as a Military Prison. In 1775, Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala (1745-97) mapped and named rugged... Doing Time as a Federal Prison: 1934-63. In 1933, the Army relinquished Alcatraz to the U.S. Justice Department, which... Famous Inmates. Among those who did time at The ...
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"The Rock" became a synonym for Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay long before its penitentiary housed the most desperate federal prisoners in the United States for almost 30 years, from 1934 to 1963. Alcatraz's historical significance reaches much further back in time and possesses more facets than the story of bank robbers and kidnappers. On the island stood the first lighthouse on America's Pacific shores, a light that has guided ships in and out of the magnificent bay for almost 125 years. For nearly 75 years, the island served as a military prison for army convicts from both the western states and overseas possessions. And for 50 years, Alcatraz played a key role in the defenses of San Francisco Harbor.
A Description Despite later tales that the island was honeycombed with Spanish tunnels and dungeons, it attracted very little attention ;from explorers and settlers before the Mexican War. Nor was there much about it that was attractive. Alcatraz jutted out of the bay, a barren irregularly shaped rock that was devoid of flowing water as well as vegetation. An American army officer described it as being "entirely without resources within itself and the soil is scarcely perceptible being rocky and precipitous on all sides. Its first surveyor wrote: "This Island is chiefly composed of irregularly stratified sandstone covered with a thin coating of guano. The stone is full of seams in all directions which render it unfit for any building purposes & probably difficult to quarry." He added: "The island has no beach & but two or three points where small boats can land." His survey showed that the island was I, 705 feet long and that its maximum width came to 580 feet. Its long axis lay in...
Because of its location in the midst of the swift currents of the bay, Alcatraz (where one could get close to the water) provided an excellent platform from which to harvest the great schools of fish that passed beneath its slopes. But if Indians made use of the island as a fishing station, they left no evidence of their visits. Not until the third quarter of the 18th century did Alcatraz enter into history. Sgt. Jose Francisco Ortega, chief scout for Gaspar de Portola's expedition, may have seen Alcatraz Island when he stumbled upon the Golden Gate in 1769. Three years later, two Spanish gentlemen most certainly did. Capt. Pedro Fages and Father Juan Crespi, exploring the area where Berkeley now stands, looked westward toward the Golden Gate and noted the principal islands within their view. Fages wrote in his journal: "Within the estuary we saw five islands, three of them making a triangle opposite the mouth, with a large distance between them; and the nearest of them to the chann...
During the last years of the Mexican regime, a number of citizens, native and naturalized, of the Republic applied for grants of land around San Francisco Bay at locations that within a short time would be demanded by the United States for use as military reservations for the defense of the harbor. While some of the original grantees had intentions of developing these lands, others were purely speculators and, after the conquest of California, undoubtedly had high hopes that the United States would be forced to pay well to obtain possession of them. Ownership disputes would soon plague all the early military reservations: Presidio, Point San Jose (Fort Mason), Lime Point, Angel Island, and Alcatraz. Early in 1849 the U. S. Congress appropriated funds for a joint commission of army and navy officers to examine the Pacific Coast with reference to its defense. Maj. John Lind Smith, senior officer of the commission, wrote from San Francisco concerning Mexican titles. He understood that...