One of the most notorious prisons in the world was dripping for decades on an island off the bay San Francisco.
Alcatraz, or “The Rock” as it became known, is believed to have been very resistant to escape thanks to the shark-filled waters around the tiny island where its facilities were located, which were icy and flowing through strong currents. Indeed, the three men who are known to have escaped from the island were allegedly drowned in the bay, according to the FBI and grunge.com. But have you ever wondered what the previous use of the prison facility was?
Although now it is mainly known for the prison housed in it, the location of the island Alcatraz in the middle of San Francisco Bay made it an attractive place for other uses before being turned into a federal prison. In fact, the island was first used as a military installation.
As one of the three islands in the bay, it was perfectly positioned to protect the city from potential foreign invaders. In addition, within a few years of its inception, it had already been used to house prisoners – almost a century before it became home to America’s worst prisoners.
So, according to grunge.com, as soon as gold was discovered in the area in 1849, San Francisco experienced a period of explosive growth. In 1850, US President Millard Fillmore authorized the island to be used as a military facility and it was soon equipped with more than 100 cannons as well as accommodation for soldiers in charge of monitoring the bay.
At that time, the plan was to use the fortress to protect the city – especially its gold – from foreign invaders. However, the use of the island as a military installation was not limited to defense purposes: it also took on the first taste of life as prison a few years after its first occupation. This was because the army decided to house prisoners of war there. A use that has been established for about a century.