10 Interesting Facts about Alcatraz

These following facts about Alcatraz should give and provide you much information about this island. Alcatraz is located in the San Francisco Bay, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) offshore from San Fransciso, California, United States. Often referred to as “The Rock”, the small island was developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963.Beginning in November 1969, the island was occupied for more than 19 months by a group of Aboriginal peoples from San Francisco who were part of a wave of Native activism across the nation with public protests through the 1970s. Furthermore, to get to know more about this island, here are some other facts about Alcatraz you might like.

Facts about Alcatraz 1: Facilities

Today, the island’s facilities are managed by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area; it is open to tours. Visitors can reach the island by ferry ride from Pier 33, near Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco. Hornblower Cruises and Events, operating under the name Alcatraz Cruises, is the official ferry provider to and from the island.

Facts about Alcatraz 2: Abandoned Prison

It is home to the abandoned prison, the site of the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States, early military fortifications, and natural features such as rock pools and a seabird colony (mostly Western Gulls, cormorants, and egrets).

Facts about Alcatraz - Alcatraz Island
Facts about Alcatraz – Alcatraz Island

Facts about Alcatraz 3: Landmarks

Landmarks on the island include the Main Cellhouse, Dining Hall, Library, Lighthouse, the ruins of the Warden’s House and Officers Club, Parade Grounds, Buildings 64, Water Tower, New Industries Building, Model Industries Building and the Recreation Yard.

Facts about Alcatraz 4: Evil Island

Native Americans kept away from the island, calling it “Evil Island” and believing it to be cursed.  The first Spaniard to document the island was Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775, who charted San Francisco Bay and named one of the three islands he identified as the “La Isla de los Alcatraces,” which translates as “The Island of the Pelicans,” from the archaic Spanish alcatraz (in English: “pelican”), a loan  word from Albatross.

Facts about Alcatraz - Cell 181
Facts about Alcatraz – Cell 181

Facts about Alcatraz 5: Military Garison

The earliest recorded owner of the island of Alcatraz is Julian Workman, to whom it was given by Mexican governor Pio Pico in June, 1846, with the understanding that Workman would build a lighthouse on it. Julian Workman is the baptismal name of William Workman, co-owner of Rancho La Puente and personal friend of Pio Pico.

Facts about Alcatraz 6: Military Prison

Because of its isolation from the outside by the cold, strong, hazardous currents of the waters of San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz was used to house Civil War prisoners as early as 1861. Following the war in 1866, the army determined that the fortifications and guns were being rapidly rendered obsolete by advances in military technology.

Facts about Alcatraz - Exterior view
Facts about Alcatraz – Exterior view

Facts about Alcatraz 7: Post-prison Years

Because the penitentiary cost much more to operate than other prisons (nearly $10 per prisoner per day, as opposed to $3 per prisoner per day at Atlanta),and half a century of salt water saturation had severely eroded the buildings, then Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ordered the penitentiary closed on March 21, 1963.

Facts about Alcatraz 8: Landmarks

The entire Alcatraz Island was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976,and was further declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 1993, the National Park Service published a plan entitled Alcatraz Development Concept and Environmental Assesment.

Facts about Alcatraz - Lighthouse
Facts about Alcatraz – Lighthouse

Facts about Alcatraz 9: Popular Culture

Alcatraz Island appears often in media and popular culture, including films dating from 1962: The Book of Eli (2010), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), Catch Me If You Can (2002), The Rock (1996), Murder in the First (1995), Escape from Alcatraz (1979), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), and J.J. Abrams’ 2012 television series Alcatraz.

Facts about Alcatraz 10: Flora

Many species of roses, succulents, and geraniums are growing among apple and fig trees, banks of sweet peas, manicured gardens of cutting flowers, and wildly overgrown sections of native grasses with blackberry and honeysuckle.

Facts about Alcatraz - Social Hall
Facts about Alcatraz – Social Hall

Hope you would find those Alcatraz facts< really interesting, useful and helpful for your additional reading.

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