Spanish Naval Officer Juan Manuel de Ayala first named this island as “La Isla de los Alcatraces”. It means “Island of the Pelicans”. “Alcatraces” eventually spelled as Alcatraz. “Juan Manuel de Ayala” also mapped the San Francisco Bay.
Native american thought that this island was cursed.
It is also known as “Rocky Island”
In 1846, Mexican Governor Pio Pico gave ownership of 22 acres Alcatraz Island to Julian Workman as Julian built a Lighthouse there. In the same year, John C. Fremont bought it by 5,000$ and in 1848 United States Government filed a case about the ownership of this island. They won and took control over this island in same year.
Zealous B. Tower gave advice that United States Army should build a strong a defence along the West Coast. From 1853 to 1858 Military surveyed and constructed an Arsenal in Alcatraz Island. They also reconstructed the Lighthouse there in 1854 to navigate the ship towards San Francisco.
Initially 200 soldiers along with 11 canon were placed but in 1861 when American Civil War began they increased the number of canon to 85 and later to 105. USA government gathered their weapons in this arsenal to prevent from the hands of rebels.
Though canons were ready to fire but never used instead these place was used as Prison. During Spanish-American War in 1898, number of inmates was increased to 450 from 26 and on 21st March, 1907 was officially declared as Western US Military Prison.
Several attempts to escape were made by imprisoned inmates (Total 14 attempts by 36 Prisoner) but no one succeeded. 6 were killed by guards.
However Alcatraz Prison was closed in 1963 by Attorney General Robert Kennedy because maintenance cost of this prison was very high.
Photos Of Alcatraz Prison
(All Images are under Public Domain or CC licensed)