Alcatraz Island, 14 June 2007 in San Francisco Bay of California. Sometimes referred to as "The Rock", the island of Alcatraz served first as a military fortification, before it became a federal penitentiary in 1934. Now Alcatraz is national recreation area under the supervision of the Naitonal Park Service (NPS) with more than a million visitors a year taking the short ferry ride from San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf to experience the infamous maximum-security prison for high-risk convicts. Famous island residents have included "Machine Gun" Kelly, Al Capone and Robert "Birdman" Stroud. AFP PHOTO / Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
By Harry Swartout
August 11, 2014

From 1934 to 1963, the most high-profile, dangerous criminals in America went to one place – Alcatraz.

A high security prison built on an island off the coast of San Francisco, “the Rock’s” hyper-vigilant security systems and improbable escapes became the stuff of legend. Infamous gangster Al Capone, famous for paying off prison guards, told the warden that “It looks like Alcatraz has got me licked.”

Due to outrageous running and upkeep costs (all supplies had to be ferried to the island), ‘the Rock’ emptied its cells after 29 years, but not before housing and breaking America’s most wanted criminals.


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