2018.03.21 Otd Alcatraz

March 21, 2018
Quick Reads background image

OTD in 1963

Alcatraz Closes

"Break the rules and you go to prison. Break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz."

Anonymous, Alcatraz Island, quote sourced by National Park Service that now oversees the famous prison.

tap here for more

Behind the Prison Walls

  • Operated from 1934 to 1963.
  • On a 12-acre rocky island, 1.5 miles from San Francisco.
  • At its peak use in the 1950s, housed over 200 inmates.
  • Well-behaved inmates had access to monthly movies & a library with 15,000 books & 75 magazines.


Turns out a prison on an island = EXPEN$IVE

  • All food & supplies shipped in.
  • No fresh water. (1M gallons of water barged in weekly.)
  • $3-5M needed just for repairs.
  • 3 times more expensive to operate. (In 1959, the daily cost per inmate at Alcatraz was $10.10 vs. $3 at a U.S. prison in Atlanta.)
  • U.S. Gov’t: more cost effective to close Alcatraz & build new.


Infamous Felons That Called Alcatraz Home

  • Al CaponeA (Prohibition-era gangster played banjo in the inmate band)
  • Robert Stroud “TheA BirdmanA of Alcatraz
  • George “Machine-Gun” KellyA
  • Alvin Karpis (first “Public Enemy #1”)

No Escaping the Rock

  • No confirmed prisoner escapes.
  • 36 inmates put the supposedly ‘escape-proof’ Alcatraz to the test.
  • Of those convicts, 23 were captured, 6 were shot to death & 2 drowned.

BUT… there were these 3 guys…

Alcatraz’s Great Mystery

What happened to brothers John & Clarence Anglin and Frank Morris?

In 1962, the 3 bank robbers dug holes in their cells with sharpened spoons & used life vests to try and sail to the mainland.

No one knows if they made it.

Click: Did They Survive

Prison to Tourist Hot Spot

After the prison closed in 1963, Alcatraz was essentially abandoned.

In 1969, a group on Native American activists occupied the island for 2 years, claiming the land.

In 1972, Alcatraz added to the Golden Gate Nat’l Recreation Area.

Now 1M tourists visit each year.

Did you know "The Rock" almost became a shopping mall after it closed? It's true. Click here to read more.

by Jenna Lee,