“The Rock” became a synonym for Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay long before its penitentiary housed the most desperate federal prisoners in the United States for almost 30 years, from 1934 to 1963. Alcatraz’s historical significance reaches much further back in time and possesses more facets than the story of bank robbers and kidnappers.

On the island stood the first lighthouse on America’s Pacific shores, a light that has guided ships in and out of the magnificent bay for almost 125 years. For nearly 75 years, the island served as a military prison for army convicts from both the western states and overseas possessions. And for 50 years, Alcatraz played a key role in the defenses of San Francisco Harbor.


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