Situated in the heart of San Francisco, Alcatraz Island (/ˈælkəˌtræz/) ) is located 1.25 miles offshore (2.01 km) from San Francisco , California, US. From 1934 to 21 March 1963, the small island was built with a lighthouse, military fortification and a military jail. The water currents across the island were still strong, and the risk of escaping from prison was therefore smaller. In November 1969, a group of San Francisco Americans who were part of a wave of U.S. native resistance, with mass demonstrations in the 1970s, occupied the Island for a span of more than 19 months. In 1972, Alcatraz became part of the National Recreation Area of Golden Gate and in 1986 was designated as a National Historic Landmark.
Today, the National Park Service maintains the facilities of the island within the National Recreational Area of the Golden Gate; it is open for tours. The island tourists will enter Pier 33 between the San Francisco Ferry Building and the San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf in a little less than fifteen minutes by ferry ride. The official provider of ferry to and from the island is Hornblower Cruises and Activities, run under the name Alcatraz Cruises.
The oldest operating lighthouse on the West coast of the United States and early military strong-fields, and natural features like rock baths and a seabird settlement (mainly Western gulls, cormorants and egrets, have all been housed on Alcatraz Island). The island is 1,675 feet (511 m) wide by 590 feet (180 m) and at its peak point during medium-sized tides according to a documentary on the Alcatraz history in 1971. The island has a total area of 22 acres (8.9 hectares).
The island was low in vegetation and was a coastal refuge for exploring Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775. Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala named this island, Isla de los Alcatraces (“Isle of the Pelicans”). The first lighthouse on California ‘s coast (1854), which was sold to the U.S. Government in 1849, was Alcatraz. Afterwards other structures on the island were constructed, where the first permanent army unit was guarded in 1859. In 1861 the island was declared military offenders’ residence. Earlier, some 19 Hopi Indians from Arizona defied the government’s efforts to assimilate them, and American troops fought in the Philippines and supported the Philippines cause in 1900. Afterwards, they were taken prisoner. The island was declared the United States Military Prison Pacific Branch in 1907.
Alcatraz joined the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1972. While no attempt has been made to rehabilitate the structures on the island — most of them have undergone general degradation and weathering and the Historic Lighthouse and four buildings were burned down in 1970. Alcatraz Island is still accessible to the public, and is a popular tourist destination. However the buildings on the island have been largely demolished.
Outstanding features of this island include the Main Cellhouse, Dining Hall, Lighthouse, the ruins of the Warden’s House and Social Hall, Parade Grounds, Building 64, Water Tower, New Industries Building, Model Industries Building, and the Recreation Yard.