The island of Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay is steeped in centuries of history. During the 19th century, the island was a crucial military stronghold before being transformed into an infamous federal jail. To secure the expanding city of San Francisco, the United States Army built a fortress there in the middle of the nineteenth century.
In 1934, the island of Alcatraz was transformed into a federal prison to imprison the country’s most hardened convicts. The penitentiary had a dreadful reputation due to its time in operation (until 1963): convicts couldn’t flee the island due to the dangerous waterways surrounding it.
The fact that notorious felons like Al Capone and Robert Stroud, sometimes known as the “Birdman of Alcatraz,” were imprisoned there adds to the island’s aura of mystery. The dramatic manhunt and subsequent abduction of three inmates in 1962 contributed to Alcatraz’s reputation as the “Rock.”
In 1972, the National Park Service took over management of Alcatraz Island as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area following its conversion from a prison. Now open to the public, guests can learn about the island’s military past while touring the island’s ancient jail cells and the prison library.