Alcatraz Island

Founded by the Spaniard Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775, the island is situated in the bay and about 1.25 miles offshore from the city. It is where the famous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary is located. The prison was built and equipped with a lighthouse and a military fortification, at first to support a military prison from 1868. In 1933 it became a federal prison and was one of the most notorious and best known prisons. Among the famous prisoners are: Al Capone, Robert “Birdman” Stroud, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly. The government closed the penitentiary in 1963 due to high costs. In 1969 a group of Native American activists occupied the island to protest federal policies related to American Indians for nineteen months, which ended in June 1971. In 1986 the island was declared a National Historic Landmark.