Alcatraz Prison Locks Doors For Good
By Mary Miller Cullins
On March 21, 1963, Alcatraz Prison in San Francisco Bay closed down and transferred the last of its prisoners. I must have seen the movie The Birdman of Alcatraz a dozen times, the place just gives you the creeps. At it’s peak in the 1950′s, “The Rock” or “America’s Devil Island” housed over 200 inmates at this maximum security facility. Alcatraz remains an icon of American prisons for its harsh conditions and record for being inescapable.
The 12-acre rocky island featured the most advanced security for that time. Some of the first metal detectors were used at Alcatraz and strict rules were enforced. Nearly complete silence was mandated at all times.
The “island” was first explored in 1775 by Juan Manuel de Ayala, who called it Isla de los Alcatraces (Pelicans) because of all the birds that lived there. It was sold to the U.S. government in 1849. It became a Civil War fort, then military prison, in 1907. The first lighthouse in California was on Alcatraz.
In March 1964, a group of Sioux Indians claimed the island belonged to them due to a 100 year old treaty. The claims were ignored until 1969 when a group of eighty-nine Native Americans occupied the island. They stayed until 1971 until they were forced off by federal authorities.
The following year, Alcatraz was added to the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It is now open for tourism.
Wanna Take A Tour?
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