Alcatraz Island

By: Alison Cole

Located in the middle of San Francisco Bay in California, the 12-acre Alcatraz Island was declared a military reservation in 1850 but was later converted into a federal penitentiary in 1934. The name, "Alcatraz" comes from Spanish and refers to a kind of seabird

Recreation Area, maintained by the National Park Service. People can now tour the Island and is one of the most popular tourist stops in the west coast.

Alcatraz Island was also the first long-term Army prison. During the 1800s, Civil War and Spanish American War Prisoners were the first inmates to arrive on the Island. By the 1920s, the three-story building was almost at full capacity.

Due to its isolated location, the authorities regarded Alcatraz Island as an ideal place for setting up a maximum-security prison. Therefore, it is also well known for having accommodated dangerous criminals like Robert Shroud, Alvin Karpis and Al Capone.

Alcatraz Island received national attention when Native Indians occupied it in 1969, associated with the Native American civil rights movement, citing an 1868 federal treaty. However, Federal agents removed them in 1971.

Alcatraz Island is now a busy tourist site mainly because of the old abandoned prison, the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast, remnants of early military fortifications, and natural features such as rock pools, a seabird colony, etc.

Many famous movies have been filmed on Alcatraz Island such as, "Escape from Alcatraz" (1979) – the true story of an escape attempt by three inmates and "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" (1980). More recently, Alcatraz Island was also the filming location for box-office hits such as "The Rock" (1996) and "Murder in the First" (1995)

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