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The Rock

Out in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, the island of Alcatraz is a world unto itself. Isolation, one of the constants of island life for any inhabitant - soldier, guard, prisoner, Indian, bird or plant - is a recurrent theme in the unfolding history of Alcatraz.

Alcatraz Island is one of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's most popular destinations, offering a close-up look at a historic and infamous federal prison long off-limits to the public. Visitors to the island cannot only explore the remnants of the prison, but can also learn about the Indian occupation of 1969 - 1971, early military fortifications (the first U.S. fort on the coast), and the West Coast's first (and oldest operating) lighthouirse. These structures and the island's many natural features - gardens, tide pools, bird colonies, and bay views beyond compare - are being preserved by the National Park Service which is working to make it accessible to visitors, preserve its buildings, protect its birds and other wildlife, and interpret its history.

Museum Collections at The Rock: Alcatraz Island

This exhibit features the extensive collections from Alcatraz Island, also known
as "The Rock."

Collections include objects made by notorious inmates, historic photographs and documents, escape materials and inmate artwork; items used by officers including correctional materials when Alcatraz was a federal penitentiary from 1934-1963; military prison period materials from 1859-1934; and the American Indian occupation of 1969 -1971.

Multi-media features give you a virtual tour of the prison, slide shows, sound clips, and close-ups of infamous prisoners such as Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the "Birdman of Alcatraz." For more information on the Museum Collections at The Rock: Alcatraz Island visit the exhibit website at http://www.cr.nps.gov/museum/exhibits/alca/overview.html.

Prisoners of Age Photography Exhibit on Alcatraz Island

This summer Alcatraz hosts the award winning Prisoners of Age exhibit by Canadian photographer Ron Lavine. This powerful exhibit featuring interviews and photographs of inmates from Canada and the United States and encourages viewers to consider the human dimension of doing time while growing old in prison. The exhibit, in the Alcatraz cell house basement, will run through September 2005. There is no separate charge for the exhibit. For more information on the Prisoners of Age exhibit visit the exhibit website at http://www.prisonersofage.com.   Sausalito Cam

35th Anniversary of American Indian Occupation of Alcatraz

The occupation of Alcatraz Island by Indians of All Tribes changed the course of U.S. and American Indian history. An award winning video/exhibit, WE HOLD THE ROCK, produced by the National Park Service and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy shows daily on Alcatraz Island. The following links will take you to additional sites related to Alcatraz and the occupation by Indians of All Tribes.

Professor Troy Johnson maintains a website on American Indian studies, including an extensive collection of photographs by Ilka Harman taken during the 19 month occupation of Alcatraz Island. Dr. Johnson has written extensively on the Occupation of Alcatraz Island, including this article on our website. The complete text of "THE ALCATRAZ PROCLAMATION to the Great White Father and his People" by Indians of All Tribes is online as part of the THE FOURTH WORLD DOCUMENTATION PROJECT.


 


 

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In 1895 nineteen Hopi were incarcerated on Alcatraz Island by the US Army for their resistance to government policies designed to destroy their religion and language. The National Park Service - Alcatraz Island, co-hosts a website with the Hopi Tribe Cultural Preservation Office with several articles and photographs of this event in Hopi and Alcatraz history.

For ferry schedule, prices and to purchase tickets visit www.blueandgoldfleet.com  Click on the buttons at the top of the page for specific sections of the Alcatraz web site. Click on the photo of the island for special features. The buttons (below right) will return you to the Alcatraz HOME page, The Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GOGA) home page, or the National Park Service (NPS) home page.

American Indian Occupation of Alcatraz Island

1969 - 1971

A collection of unique photographs which historically document the 1969-1971 occupation of Alcatraz Island by Indians of All Tribes, Inc. These rare photographs were contributed by Ilka Hartmann, Michelle Vignes, and the National Park Service in order that students and researchers may have access to information that will provide insight into the occupation and those who were instrumental in the early activities of Indian protest and unified political activities by American Indian people

Photo Collection Set 1 Photo Collection Set 2

 


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Escape from Alcatraz (1979)

This exhibit features the extensive collections from Alcatraz Island, also known as "The Rock."

Collections include objects made by notorious inmates, historic photographs and documents, escape materials and inmate artwork; items used by officers including correctional materials when Alcatraz was a federal penitentiary from 1934-1963; military prison period materials from 1859-1934; and the American Indian occupation of 1969 -1971.

Multi-media features give you a virtual tour of the prison, slide shows, sound clips, and close-ups of infamous prisoners such as Al Capone and Robert Stroud, the "Birdman of Alcatraz."

Genre: Drama / Thriller (more)
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Tagline: No one has ever escaped from Alcatraz... And no one ever will!

Plot Outline: A dramatization of the one possibly successful escape from the notorious prison. (more) (view trailer)
Clint Eastwood Coast Guard cutter searching for escapees

This movie is the dramatization of what probably the only successful attempt was to escape from the prison island called Alcatraz. This prison was thought to be the safest ever, but as some inmates proved: there is absolutely no prison in the world you can't escape from! You are inside that prison as well... You know these people are criminals, but you can't help it to support them, hoping that they will make it on their way out of there, outsmarting all the guards and the prison warden.

Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island in 2005

Alcatraz Island (37°49′35″N, 122°25′21″W) is located in the middle of San Francisco Bay in California. It was formerly used as a military stockade and later as a maximum security prison. Today, the island is a historic site supervised by the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and is open to tours. Visitors can reach the island by ferry ride from Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco. It is listed as a National Historic Landmark. Its name comes from the Spanish (and originally Arabic) word for the gannet, a kind of seabird. It was first discovered by Juan Manuel de Ayala.It is home to the now abandoned prison, the oldest operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States, early military fortifications, and natural features such as rock pools, a seabird colony, and unique views of the coastline

Wikipedia (Alcatraz)

Alcatraz  


'Alcatraz' author Michael Esslinger: Why a prison fascinates us

With a new TV show focused on the famous penitentiary, author and historian Michael Esslinger debunks some of the most enduring Alcatraz myths.


The famous prison Alcatraz was actually probably the best place to be incarcerated, says author Michael Esslinger, with its decent food and cells much valued by its inmates.


Almost five decades after the last prisoner left Alcatraz Island, "The Rock" still has the power to intrigue.
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The rocky shores of Alcatraz bloom once again
Al Capone Shines My Shoes

We still don't know what happened to the four prisoners who escaped and swam for freedom across the bay. We do know, however, that some of the country's most vicious criminals spent years behind the stone walls of the Alcatraz federal penitentiary, tempted and tortured by an amazing view of San Francisco skyscrapers and the lives they left behind.

The mystique of Alcatraz has attracted plenty of authors and filmmakers, and now a TV show is ready for its close-up. "Alcatraz" debuted on Monday on the Fox network, featuring a plot about long-dead prisoners reappearing in the modern day. And – surprise! – they're up to no good.

Michael Esslinger, an author who lives in Monterey, Calif., is one of the prison's most devoted historians. His book Alcatraz: A Definitive History of the Penitentiary Years tracks the island's most notorious decades.

In an interview this week, I asked Esslinger to ponder the prison's eternal appeal, debunk a few myths, and speculate about what happened to those freedom-bound escapees.

Q: Why does Alcatraz have such a unique place in American culture and history?

A: When Alcatraz opened in August of 1934, it was considered America’s Devil Island, and it was touted that no one could escape alive. It was intended to turn the spectacular criminal dispositions of America's most notorious criminals into a world of decorum. The Alcatraz regimen demanded more than simple conformity. Silence and cramped cells were the foundation, along with stern discipline, an unrelenting routine, and a set of rules and regulations that shaped most every aspect of daily life on the Rock.

The Rule of Silence was heavily enforced during Alcatraz’s infant years as a federal penitentiary. This was the Alcatraz trademark, and proved to silence the voices of some of America’s most notorious outlaws.

Q: Was Alcatraz prison famous from the beginning, or did events and its prisoners help it become more well-known in its early history?

A: The foundation of Alcatraz’s notorious reputation was set in stone from the very onset.

The inmates sent to Alcatraz were considered the cream of the criminal crop, and many were a new breed of outlaw that the government had failed to contain. They were comprised of the famous, infamous, unknowns, and were not only bank robbers and murderers, but organized crime figures that orchestrated complex crime syndicates where corruption was boundless and infiltrated even the most sacred levels of law enforcement.

A ticket to Alcatraz was not necessarily based on one's crimes against free society. Recruitment to Alcatraz was a model with no specific prototype or criteria as to what would initiate a transfer. Generally space was reserved for inmates who were prone to escape, high profile, difficult, unruly, badly behaved, or simply created delinquency challenges for the prison staff in the federal prison of their confinement.

Alcatraz Island nps

Q: What are some of the biggest myths about Alcatraz? What do people misunderstand about it?

A: The biggest myth is that Alcatraz was depicted as a horrific prison, but the vast number of inmates I interviewed state it was likely the best. It was clean, had good food, and although small, a private cell was something to be cherished.