© Courtesy of Bill Perry - Fotolia.com
The United States Disciplinary Barracks on Alcatraz Island was bought by the United States Department of Justice in 1933 and became a federal prison a year later. During the following 29 years that the island prison was in use, it held some of the most notorious criminals in American history, including Al Capone, Mickey Cohen, Bumpy Johnson, and James ‘Whitey’ Bulgar, among others. The penitentiary’s claim to fame is that during the 29 years of operation, no prisoner successfully escaped.
The prison was shut down in 1963 due to escalating costs and was later listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. Today, the island is a popular tourist attraction.
Native American Occupation
In 1969, Alcatraz Island saw a group of Native Americans known as the United Indians of All Tribes led by Mohawk activist Richard Oakes to claim the land on behalf of ‘Indians of All Tribes.’ The group, who wanted new facilities such as an education and ecology center, and a cultural center built, remained on the island for two years During this time, President Richard Nixon rescinded the Indian termination policy and established a new policy of self-determination. The occupation of Alcatraz Island ended on June 11, 1971.
Alcatraz Island is located in the center of San Francisco Bay and is open to the public every day of the week from 8:45 am to 8:45 pm. The island is accessible by ferries run by the Hornblower Cruises ferry company from Pier 33 near the Fisherman’s Wharf in Sab Francisco, and visitors can enjoy guided tours of the island and its facilities. The Dock Ranger Station and Theater is located near the dock on Alcatraz and presents an orientation film about the island, features several exhibits about Alcatraz's wildlife and the American Indian occupation (1969-1971), and a bookstore.
San Francisco, CA 94133, Phone: 415-561-4900
Back to: Best things to Do in San Francisco