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Alcatras. Alcazar. History of fear and fall

CastleMania tells you story of Alcatras (Alcazar) foundation and lifetime. See photos. Read history.

Alcatraz (also Alcatras, Alcazar, The Rock) is an old prison, which was used as a federal penitentiary from 1934 to 1963, a total of 29 years, and which was considered to be impossible to escape. It is located in the middle of San Francisco Bay in California and when it was opened to the public from 1972, it has become a very famous historic and tourist site. The National Park Service, as a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, now maintains the abandoned prison.
Alcatras 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 Alcatras Island. Later on, due to its isolated location and the freezing San Francisco Bay waters, the authorities considered Alcatras as an ideal place for holding dangerous prisoners.

Initially, Alcatras, or Alcazar, was just another Federal institution but the prison started gaining fame after it began housing notorious criminals like George "Machine Gun" Kelly, Robert Franklin Stroud, Alvin Karpis, Henry Young and Al Capone. Criminals who could not be controlled by other Federal institutions were also incarcerated here.

The average number of inmates in Alcatras was around 260 and approximately 1545 total men imprisoned here during the 29 years of its operation. There were prisonbreak attempts but there is no official record if any of them had been successful. A few prisoners disappeared but were all presumed drowned in the San Francisco Bay waters.

After Alcatras prison was closed down in 1963, some Native Indians from 1969 to 1971 occupied it. It is now a National Historic Landmark, opened to tours. Visitors to this place can also explore the oldest lighthouse in the west coast, remnants of early military fortifications and natural features such as rock pools.

Alcatras (Alcazar Prison) is located in a very small piece of island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. The prison was originally an army fort, which was later converted into and used as a federal penitentiary for 29 years (1934 to 1963).

The Alcazar prison in Alcatras had 336 cells divided into B&C Block. There were 36 segregation cells, and 6 solitary confinement cells in DBlock. Two cells on the End of CBlock were used as restrooms for the guard staff. The cells in ABlock were only used a few times for short term lock-up periods.

Most prisoners incarcerated in Alcazar prison were those who were considered violent and dangerous, inmates considered prisonbreak risks, and who most probably refused to follow the rules and regulations at other Federal institutions.

A prisoner could earn privileges in Alcatras prison which included working, visits from family members, access to the prison library, and recreational activities such as painting and music. There were only four basic rights - food, clothing, shelter and medical care.

There were no facilities for Capital Punishment in Alcatras prison Alcazar so an inmate who had been served a death sentence was transferred to San Quentin State Penitentiary for execution in the Gas Chamber. The average number of inmates in Alcazar Prison during the 29 years of its operation was around 260 and approximately 1545 total men imprisoned there.

After Alcatras was closed, the American Indians from 1969 until 1971 inhabited the Alcatras island. Since October 1972, Alcazar has become a historic site and part of the "Golden Gate National Recreation Area" - supervised by the National Park Service, which is now open to tours.

The famous Alcatras Island (Alcazar Prison)

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