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Alcatraz Island, commonly referred to as simply Alcatraz or locally as The Rock, is a small island located in the middle of San Francisco Bay in California, United States. It served as a lighthouse, then a military fortification, then a military prison followed by a federal prison until 1963. It became a national recreation area in 1972 and received landmarking designations in 1976 and 1986

The facility is one of the most fascinating places to visit with its colorful history. Ayala, the first Spaniard to land there, named it Isla de los Alcatraces ("Islands of the Pelicans"), because of the immense number of these birds nesting on the sandstone island. The island remained uninhabited for years until 1853 when a lighthouse was erected due to the number of ships visiting the foggy bay during the California gold-rush. During the Civil War (1861-65), the island was fortified and became a military prison. It later became the most notorious and feared of all US federal prisons in 1933 to 1963. In the course of its 30 year existence the penitentiary received a total of 1,576 convicts. There were a number of famous Alcatraz escapes, but hardly anyone ever succeeded in escaping. Many people are familiar with the Alcatraz Island Prison from movies made about it such as Escape from Alcatraz and Birdman of Alcatraz. There is even an annual Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. The island has been open to visitors since 1973.

Alcatraz Island is surrounded by breathtaking views of the California coast - San Francisco, Angel Island, the East Bay, Golden Gate Bridge, the Marina district, Sausalito. Visitors get to explore the island known for its condensed and preserved history. There is no entrance fee to visit Alcatraz Island though visitors are charged for the ferry service to and from the island which is supplied by a private company under contract with the National Park Service.
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