Welcome To The Rock Essay

2319 words - 9 pages

On the San Francisco Bay lays an island only 1½ miles away from the shoreline. This piece of land is one of the top tourist spots in the city that draws over one million visitors a year (staff, hisotry.com, 2009) However, even though it is a wonderful place to visit, fifty years ago it was not. In fact not a single person wanted to go there. It was a dark, lonely, secluded place that you would try everything in your means to escape. This place is known as Alcatraz and it was a prison to some of the nation’s worst criminals in the United States from 1934 until its closure in 1963, almost 30 years. Alcatraz Prison has a long and remarkable history, filled with some of the most fun and interesting facts ranging from the U.S. military to notorious criminals and famous escape attempts inspiring a few top wonderful movies starring lead actors like Clint Eastwood or Sean Connery.
According to History Channel, the Island measures around 22 acres and reaches 121 feet above sea level. It was discovered in 1775 by a Spanish explorer named Juan Miguel de Ayala. The name Alcatraz comes from the Spanish word Alcatraces which translates to pelicans. It was named this because the island was inhabited by nothing but pelicans (alcatraz Trips history, n.d.). In 1854 Alcatraz became the home to the West Coast very first lighthouse to help guide ships into the harbor, which was replaced with an automatic one in 1909 (kennedy, 2012). In 1850 the President of the United States at the time gave an order for the island to be used by the U.S. Army. This was around the time of the California Gold Rush, and the island location made it a great spot to help maintain good order inside the bay. With the lighthouse already on the island the U.S. Army began to build building or a fortress around it. The army had planned to place over 100 cannons on Alcatraz Island to help protect the bay from intruders and wrong doers (alcatraz Trips history, n.d.). This was a great idea because with the help of Fort Point and Lima Point the two points of land where the Golden Gate bridge runs connects, it created what is known as the “triangle of defense,” so no ship or fleet dared to enter the bay and face the wrath of over 100 cannons coming from three different positions. Even though the island had a grand line of defense it never fired a single bullet into battle. Later in that same year the U.S. Army began to house military prisoners. These prisoners were army convicts from both the western states and overseas possessions (Alcatraz hisotry, 2000). This army prison would stay in business for over 75 years.
In 1909 the only thing left after the Army tore down the prison was the basement level. By tearing down the old military prison it gave the opportunity to start the project of a new and improved prison. The type of prison where the toughest, meanest, and dangerous criminals would eventually be locked up. What’s ironic about the prison being built between the years...

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