Essay by amer15 January 2008

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Alcatraz Located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the San Francisco bay is a rocky island. If you are lucky and weather permits, you can see it standing from the San Francisco Pier. This rocky island named Alcatraz, also as “The Rock”, is one of the many tourist attractions in San Francisco. Tours can take you by boat to Alcatraz, located on the island is an old prison that has been closed for 43 years. This prison is well–known for its odd location and famous prisoners. What attracts the attention of people to Alcatraz is how prisoners managed to escape from the island and if they ever made it alive to shore. There is a lot of history behind this island and prison as well.

Alcatraz was not a prison from the start. Alcatraz was explored in 1775 by a Spanish lieutenant, Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala, who found that this island was the home of many seabirds.

Lieutenant Ayala decided to name the island Isla de los Alcatraces. In Spanish, Isla de los Alcatraces means Isle of the Pelicans. In 1850, Isla de los Alcatraces was sold to the U.S. government and was ordered to be used as a U.S. military reservation (Britannica). Meanwhile, the California Gold Rush was attracting the notice of many people from all over the United States to San Francisco. To protect the city and the bay, the government decided to build a fort on the island. During this same time, the first lighthouse on the coast of California as well as the west coast was built on the island (Britannica). The first use of this fort as a prison for military prisoners was in the late 1850’s. In 1909, the island was designated the Pacific Branch of the United States Military Prison...