All of us like to read about mysterious islands and know several unknown facts and surprising facts about them, isn’t it? Especially when it is Alcatraz Island, people become interested to know about it. The name itself brings us a picture of an island shrouded with mystery. It was created in the 19th century, and it became popular mainly in the 20th century. Do you know the reason for its popularity?
Well, it is because some of the greatest prisoners of the United States were held captive there. So gradually, the famed prison Alcatraz slowly built its reputation and became popular with the general public as the world’s best-known prison. At times, people also called it “The Rock.” There is also a reason behind this. The prison got this unique name because of its location since it was on a small rocky island in the Bay of San Francisco.
In fact, there are several more exciting aspects behind this name. So would you like to know about it in detail? Stay with us until the end, as we will share some of the exciting and unknown aspects of Alcatraz Island.
Check out the History of the Island
Since you are reading this article, it is apparent that you probably love reading about historical facts. Therefore, you want to explore the old infamous Alcatraz Island. As we said earlier, there are several historical aspects that we associate with it. In fact, there is also a separate reason behind the name “The Rock.”
Apart from being built on a small rocky island in the bay of Francisco, its remote location was first used as a place for the bay’s first lighthouse. However, the American military took control of the island over the years, and gradually they changed it into a prison. Do you know who found the island at first? Initially, in 1775, a famous Spanish naval officer found the island. In fact, he was the first European to enter the San Francisco bay.
Moreover, the Spanish naval officer named the island “La Isla de Los Alcatraces.” If you translate it, the meaning comes to as the island of the pelicans. Sounds interesting, right? In fact, by the middle of the 19th century, Mexican governor Pio Pico also started the lighthouse construction on the island. The Mexican-American war and the acquisition of California happened in the 1850s.
After the order of the 13th president of the United States, Millard Fillmore Alcatraz, the island became the property of the US military. Moreover, in the next ten years, the army started building walls and defensive cannons on the island. However, the authorities fired none of them during the American Civil War, and it was during this time they started receiving prisoners.
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Some more Interesting Aspects About Alcatraz Island
Alcatraz Island is a place that remains steeped in history; several such aspects remain unknown today. However, as per the sources from various textbooks and other documents, we could gather some interesting facts. As we said earlier, after the order of the 13th president of the United States, Alcatraz became the property of the US military.
Moreover, this remote location and the fortified military complex became a great spot for a prison in the later years. Since the military decided to move their forces off the island, only the prison remained. Therefore, gradually the population of the prison rose as decades passed. In fact, the biggest addition to its size happened after the Spanish-American war in 1898 and the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
So in 1907, the govt officially recognized the island as the Western Military Prison, and it was at that time that the construction work began. They completed the main prison block and nearby buildings by 1912. It was from this time that the population in prison started growing. In fact, the prisoners whom the authorities had sent here created lots of problems.
This prison also housed many famous gangsters and criminals like Al Capone and Machine Gun Kelly. In fact, during its entire history, no prisoner managed to escape from this island successfully. As per the sources, the prisoners made 14 escape attempts. Out of the 36 prisoners who tried to escape, the authorities caught 23them, eight were on the run, and five are considered either drowned or missing.
Why did Alcatraz Shut Down?
You must have got an idea regarding the world-famous prison, right? You must have also heard that the authorities officially closed it down on March 21, 1963. It was just two years after the most famous prison escape of all time. Do you know the inmates Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin made a daring and complicated plan to escape? Yes, they had managed to exit the complex walls of the prison and enter the icy cold waters of San Francisco Bay. However, the authorities never found their bodies. So they claimed that they most certainly drowned. In fact, till now, the US Marshall’s office has kept a check on this case.
However, one of the major reasons behind this prison’s closure was the increasing cost and remote location. It was four times more expensive than any other federal prison. They closed it after 29 years of operation. The authorities needed a huge sum of $3-5 million to keep it running for its maintenance.
Since it was in a remote location, they had to bring food, water, fuel had here by boat. Needless to say, it became super-expensive. So they had no choice but to close it down as it was becoming difficult for them to keep it going with the limited resources.
What is Alcatraz used for Now?
#ParkAlert: Due to the severe weather conditions in the SF Bay Area, @AlcatrazIsland will be closed today (10/24/2021). All Island Tours are cancelled.— Alcatraz Island (@AlcatrazIsland) October 24, 2021
For questions regarding tour and refunds, please visit https://t.co/I7NiV17fDe. pic.twitter.com/a6dFbgqnP1
Many of our readers are probably thinking about what this famous island’s present condition is. Well, you are at the right place as we will share with you all the relevant details here. As per the sources, after the prison’s closure, Alcatraz became an abandoned island. In fact, the federal government had also proposed several ideas for the island. This had included building monuments for the United Nations or a shopping center as a cultural hub. However, some people claimed it as Indian land, so protests continued.
Moreover, the 1972 congress created Alcatraz Island as a part of the new national park service unit. In fact, after that, they opened the island to the public, and later on, it became one of the most famous park service areas. Presently, more than one million people visit this place daily with their family and friends to have a great time.
At the same time, in 1986, this island became a National Historic Landmark. The island is famous today itself with never-ending tributes. It also became a part of several written and film media. Moreover, famous writers wrote countless books and movies on it, describing the conditions inside the prison during its peak. In fact, the legends about Alcatraz prison entered into pop culture as one of the best-known prisons in the world. So you can well understand its popularity, right?
This wholesome article must have given you an overall idea about the Alcatraz origin and how the prisoners lived on the island. Needless to say, escaping from here was a mammoth task. Therefore, none of them could become successful. The rich history of Alcatraz is indeed amazing, and it has made a significant contribution to world history with its fascinating stories.
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