Alcatraz Prison, often referred to solely as Alcatraz or The Rock, because it stands on a rocky outcrop, was a US federal maximum-security prison located on Alcatraz Island, about 2km off the coast of San Francisco, California, the United States, which operated from August 11, 1934, to March 21, 1963.
Alcatraz had been the site of a military fort since the 1850s; the main prison structure was built between 1910 and 1912 as a military prison for the US Army. The US Department of Justice acquired the existing facilities on Alcatraz Island on October 12, 1933, and opened a federal prison there in August of the following year after appropriate modernizations to the complex. The isolation of the place, the presence of freezing currents in the waters of the San Francisco Bay, and the presence of maximum security structures, made the island an escape-proof prison as well as the most solid prison in all of America.
Alcatraz was used for incarcerating those inmates who were considered problematic in other prisons. Having become one of the most infamous prisons in the United States, over the years it housed 1,576 inmates, including some of America’s worst criminals.
In addition to the prison facilities on the island, there were the houses of the prison staff and their families. 36 prisoners made a total of 14 escape attempts in the 29-year history of the prison; the most famous of these was the May 1946 attempt called the “Battle of Alcatraz” and the famous June 1962 escape by Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin. Due to the high maintenance costs, Alcatraz prison closed its doors on March 21, 1963.
The prison was divided into four blocks of cells (A, B, C, D), the guard’s office, the visiting room, the library, and the barber. The prison cells measured 2.7 x 1.5 meters and were 2.1 meters high; they appeared primitive and lacked any privacy, with basic furnishings consisting of a bed, a table, a sink, and a toilet leaning against the back wall.
African Americans were held separately from other prisoners for racial abuse. Block D housed the worst offenders, and five cells in this area were called “The Hole” where the most riotous inmates were sent for certain periods and suffered brutal treatment. The dining room and kitchen were offshoots of the main block. The prisoners and staff ate lunch three times a day together. Alcatraz hospital was located above the dining room.
The corridors of the prison had the names of the most famous streets in the United States such as Broadway and Michigan Avenue. Working for Alcatraz prisoners was considered a privilege that could only be accessed with good conduct and many of these were employed in the Model Industries Building and New Industries Building, while others were employed for manual labor or practical prison duties. as in laundry management.
Currently, Alcatraz is a public museum and one of San Francisco’s main tourist attractions, attracting 1,500,000 visitors annually. Currently, the former prison is maintained and restored by the National Park Service’s Golden Gate National Recreation Area.