Located on an Island in the San Francisco Bay, California, the former federal penitentiary known as Alcatraz Island serves as a landmark and a major tourist attraction for many. While many see this island as just a prison, there was a lot more going on behind the scenes. Besides the prisoners and the prison itself, there were staff, families, and children who all lived on the island. There was also a school and a library that hosted many. It's easy to think of some of the most famous convicts in the world when you think of Alcatraz Island, and although this is true because there were hundreds of convicts on this island, there is a lot more to Alcatraz Island than most people are aware of.
- Rocky island in San Francisco Bay, California
- The island occupies an area of 22 acres and is located 1.5 miles offshore
- Alcatraz was sold in 1849 to the U.S governmentIn 1861, the island was a designated residence for military offenders
- 1907: the island was the designated Pacific Branch of the United States Military Prison
- 1934-1963 it served as a federal prison for some of the most dangerous individualsThis included 19 Hopi Indians from the Arizona territory who passively revolted against the government in attempt to assimilate them and the American soldiers fighting the Philippines who had just joined the Filipino cause in the 1900s
- The rock is most widely known because the inmates who were incarcerated on the island, helped in the building of the prison in which they would reside in
- Alcatraz Island was designed with the intention that the prisoners on the island, wouldn't be able to escape the island.
- The United States government soon learned this and realized that they could do even more with the land they owned, so they continued to house inmates in a prison away from the land
- Alcatraz was considered to be a place where the most dangerous convicts were sent to when Alcatraz was first opened
- The Warden's were very strict and ran the prison with an "iron fist"
- A surprising number of families grew up on the island
- At any given time there was approximately 250 prisoners living on the island and 150 staff members, not including their families
- Alcatraz changed from a place with little to no contact, to a place where families could be raised
- Prisoners who were on the island were able to attend a school on the island and some even became eligible enough to earn a job on the island if they behaved well.
- One of the most famous convicts on Alcatraz Island was Al Capone - also known as "Scarface". Capone was an infamous American Gangster who worked on Alcatraz Island, doing the laundry of families who lived there
- George Kelly Barnes aka, "Machine Gun Kelly", was an American gangster from Memphis Tennessee, during the prohibition era
- Meyer Harris, also knows as, "Mickey Cohen" was a gangster and professional boxer based in Los Angeles during the mid 20th centuries. He was convicted of tax evasion
- He was the only prisoner to ever be bailed out of Alcatraz; his bond was signed by the U.S Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. Once the appeals failed, Cohen was sent to a federal prison in Atlanta, Georgia
- People are able to purchase tickets to visit Alcatraz Island and get a glimpse into what living on the island was like for the prisoners, families, and staff that lived on Alcatraz Island
- The tour includes a Ferry ride from the mainland across the water to Alcatraz Island
- The tourists are able to wear headphones that help describe the events and details about what occurred in each room the visits are passing through
- Some of the main attractions are Al Capone's cell, the prison school classrooms for staff members families to attend, and the cafeteria.
- In the cafeteria, visitors are given the opportunity to eat lunch where the prisoners used to sit and eat
- The tape acknowledges some of the most famous convicts as visitors pass by their cells, popular places for convicts to hang out, and where they would go to work
- The tour is very descriptive and there are very few things that visitors are not allowed to see.
Small island Alcatraz Island, usually referred to as "The Rock," is situated in San Francisco Bay. With evidence of Native American occupancy on the island reaching back to at least 10,000 BCE, its history spans thousands of years. The island was used by the American military as a military fortification in the 1850s, and a lighthouse and other coastal defense batteries were constructed to defend San Francisco Bay.
The United States Department of Justice made the decision to turn Alcatraz into a federal prison in 1933. The plan was to build a high-security prison to house some of the most dangerous criminals in the nation. With the expectation that the terrible conditions on the island might stop others from committing crimes, the prison was built as a deterrence to potential offenders.
When the facility first opened its doors in 1934, it soon established a reputation as one of the strictest and most guarded. The waters surrounding it were icy and dangerous, and the currents were so strong that it was nearly impossible to get out. The prison included modern security features including searchlights, gun towers, and guards with powerful rifles, and it was also closely guarded.
Some of the most renowned criminals in American history have resided in Alcatraz throughout the years, including Robert Stroud, commonly known as the "Birdman of Alcatraz," George "Machine Gun" Kelly, and Al Capone. Many prisoners were condemned to solitary confinement and forced labor in the prison's enterprises, which included a laundry, a tailor shop, and a license plate factory. The severe conditions on the island were intended to crush the spirits of the inmates.
Numerous prisoners have attempted to escape from Alcatraz throughout the years, despite the prison's stringent security procedures. The majority of efforts failed, and many prisoners either drowned in the bay or were apprehended by authorities.
The most well-known attempt at an escape took place in 1962 when three prisoners—Frank Morris, John, and Clarence Anglin—were able to break free of their cells and leave the island on a handmade raft.
Three prisoners at the notorious Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, which was situated on an island in San Francisco Bay, made a daring escape on June 11, 1962, which went on to become one of the most well-known prison breakouts in history. Using a combination of cunning, resourcefulness, and a little bit of luck, the three men had spent months quietly planning their escape.
Due to its location on an island surrounded by dangerous waterways, Alcatraz was regarded as one of the most secure jails in the United States. The three prisoners were eager to escape despite their bad reputation. They started by using spoons and other improvised tools to chip away at the concrete walls of their cells. They dug tunnels behind the walls over a period of months, making artificial ventilation grates to cover their labor.
The inmates made dummy heads out of paper mache and human hair, which they placed in their beds to give the impression that they were still asleep, in order to avoid being caught. They also constructed a temporary raft out of stolen raincoats that they intended to use to cross the chilly waters of the San Francisco Bay and get to the mainland.
The three prisoners entered the prison through the tunnels on the night of the breakout and came out on the prison's roof. They moved to the edge of the water by sliding down a ventilation shaft from there. They inflated their raft, launched it into the bay, and paddled into the night in search of the distant city's lights.
Authorities conducted a thorough search for the three guys, but they were never located. To this day, nobody knows what happened to them; some think they drowned in the bay or perished from exposure, while others think they managed to escape and began new lives using fictitious names.
The Alcatraz prison break has gained notoriety in popular culture and has served as an inspiration for a number of books, films, and television programs throughout the years. Numerous ideas and investigations have been inspired by it, and many people are still captivated by the idea that the three inmates may have managed to trick one of the most security prisons in history.
The three men may have managed to escape in the years since, according to a number of pieces of evidence that have come to light. The FBI reported receiving a letter purporting to be from John Anglin in 2013, in which he stated that all three men had survived and were now residing in South America. A photograph that looked to show John and Clarence Anglin was also included in the letter, however its validity has never been established.
The details of the Alcatraz prison break remain a mystery despite the alluring hints. Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers' bold escape will continue to hold people's attention for years to come, even though it is unlikely that we will ever know for sure what happened to them.
Native American activists seized the island for more than a year following the escape to protest the way the U.S. government treated native peoples. The jail was closed in 1963 as a result of the escape. Alcatraz was made a national park in 1972 and made accessible to the general public as a tourist destination. Visitors can now board a ferry to the island to see the prison's ruins and discover more about its interesting past as one of the most infamous and secure jails in the entire world.