10 Fatos Interessantes sobre a Ilha de Alcatraz

10 Interesting Facts about Alcatraz
There are almost as many facts about Alcatraz Prison as there are Golden Gate Bridge facts that tourist may find of interest while touring the prison. It is easy to see by these interesting Alcatraz Prison facts, that this is one of the most famous San Francisco tourist attractions.

One of the most well-known Alcatraz Prison facts is that no inmate has ever successfully managed to escape in the 29 years that the federal prison was operational.
Many men, 36 in total, tried to escape from the prison.
There were 36 men in 14 separate escape attempts. 23 were caught, six were killed and two drowned. The fate of five men remains unknown, although officially they are listed as "missing and presumed drowned".

Frank Lee Morris and the Anglin brothers made the most famous escape attempt in 1962. Considered "missing and presumed drowned", they are romoured to have made it. The escape was portrayed in the movie "Escape from Alcatraz".
The role of Frank Morris in the film was played by Clint Eastwood. 

Alcatraz had a capacity of 336 prisoners, but this capacity was never fully used up. The average number of inmates was 260-275, which accounted for quite decent living conditions (one person per cell).
Alcatraz was home to many famous criminals such as Al Capone, Robert Stroud also known as the Birdman of Alcatraz as well as George “Machine Gun” Kelly.


The prison's nickname was The Rock. The island was nicknamed so by the U.S. army soldiers, as it consisted mostly of rocks. There was hardly any vegetation and no source of fresh water there. "The Rock" is also the title of a 1996 movie about Alcatraz.
The large island of Alcatraz has no freshwater source. Any fresh water is caught by rain barrels.

Alcatraz Island, 1895.
Native Americans kept well away from the island, calling it "Evil Island" and believing it to be cursed. The first Spaniard to document the island was Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775, who charted San Francisco Bay, and named one of the three islands he identified as the "La Isla de los Alcatraces," which translates as "The Island of the Pelicans," from the archaic Spanish alcatraz, "pelican", a word which was borrowed from Arabic القطرس al-qaṭrās, meaning sea eagle. Over the years, the English version ‘Alcatraz’ became popular and is now widely used. In August 1827, French Captain Auguste Bernard Duhaut-Cilly wrote "...running past Alcatraces (Pelicans) Island...covered with a countless number of these birds. A gun fired over the feathered legions caused them to fly up in a great cloud and with a noise like a hurricane." The California Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus) is not known to nest on the island today. The Spanish put a few small buildings on the island, little else.


The area of the island known as “Little Alcatraz” was renamed “Paul Pry Rock” when an excursion steamer named Paul Pry was shipwrecked.


During the Civil War, Alcatraz was home to 39 confederate sympathizers who celebrated Lincoln’s assassination.

The first recorded owner of the island was Carlos Gonzalez Rodriguez, better known as William Workman, who received the town as a gift from his friend and Mexican governor Pio Pico in 1846. In the same year John Charles Frémont military of the Republic of California, on behalf of the U.S. Government, purchased the island for $ 5000. 
In 1850, President Millard Fillmore transformed the island into a military base as a result of the Mexican-American War and Frémont still awaiting compensation for acquiring the island for the country, but the government simply ignored and not paid off the debt. Frémont and his heirs fought unsuccessfully for years in the courts for the balance of the debt. 

Following the acquisition of California by the United States, the Army began studying the possibility of building a fort on the island in 1853 and now the Corps of Engineers U.S. Army, under the direction of Zealous B. Tower, began the work of fortification of the island which was completed in 1858. The first trim of the island contained about 200 soldiers and 11 cannons. However, the firepower of Alcatraz should be shown during the American Civil War had to wait to impress the Southerners. Fearing that the arsenal of Alcatraz fall into the hands of the soldiers of the South, the government established the San Francisco Arsenal for storage of equipment. Despite the firepower, Alcatraz was not involved offensively Civil War, but it was used to imprison Confederate sympathizers.

Hopi inmates by Alcatraz lighthouse
Alcatraz was also home to several Native American prisoners including 19 of the Hopi tribe who refused to send their children to an English only school.
Hopi inmates on Alcatraz - 1895
The largest group of Indian prisoners to be confined on Alcatraz were nineteen Hopi "hostiles." Their crimes may have been the most unique in the 140-year history of incarceration on the Rock, they wouldn't farm as the government instructed them to, and they opposed forced education in government boarding schools. Both "offenses" were part of widespread resistance to U.S. policies designed to erase Hopi language and religion. Contact with the outside world was rare at first, and generally repugnant (theft, murder and enslavement were some results of contact with outsiders) before the uneasy establishment of the "Moqui Indian Agency" in 1870.


Native American Indians claimed the island as their land own and occupied it for 18 months (1969-1971), the with intention of transforming it into a cultural and education centre. The island suffered a lot of damage during the occupation. It ended in June 1971, when the Native Americans were removed from the island by Federal Marshals.


The Alcatraz island, before it became home to a prison, was used as a military site in 1850. The U.S. army built there a Citadel, which was transformed into a military prison. The fortress was torn down in 1909, and a new prison was erected. 

When the cell house was finally completed in 1912, it was the world’s largest steel reinforced structure and still stands today. 
The island remained in possession of the U.S. Army until 1933. One year later, the infamous prison started operation.
Al Capone was one of the first prisoners when Alcatraz opened as a Federal Penitentiary in 1934.


During WWII, inmates made the fatigues for the soldiers going off to war.  The Alcatraz prison operated from 1934 until 1963. It closed down as being "too expensive to run".

Today: The 12-acre island opened to the public in 1973. Millions of tourists visit it every year. 
Some people want Transforming Alcatraz Island into a luxury hotel.


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