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The History of Alcatraz

Explore the History of Alcatraz Island

History of Alcatraz

Explore The Facts About The World's Most Famous Federal Prison

Most people know that Alcatraz was once a world-famous federal penitentiary, but the Island’s history before and after the penitentiary era is less well known.  For example, few realize that it was also the site of the first American lighthouse on the West Coast and that the Island served as a huge harbor defense fort during the Civil War.  After the fort became obsolete, the U.S. Army turned the Island into a grim military prison.  Following the closing of the penitentiary, Alcatraz became the site of an American Indian protest movement that would change modern American history.

Click on the links below to learn more about Alcatraz’s fascinating history.

Alcatraz Legends

Discover the truth about America's most infamous criminals that ended up at Alcatraz Island.

Before 1769

Discover how Alcatraz Island was used before it housed hundreds of criminals.

Military Fortress & Prison

Step back in time more than 250 years ago and learn about the beginning of Alcatraz Island. 

Federal Penitentiary

Learn more about America's most popular federal penitentiary. 

Indian Occupation

Learn more about the American Indian activists who seized the Island. 

National Park

Learn more about the National Park Service at Alcatraz Island. 

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