The name Alcatraz is derived from the Spanish word alcatraces
, which means strange bird and referred to the pelicans living on the island. In 1853, the U.S. Army began construction of a military fort on Alcatraz to protect the San Francisco Bay, and by the start of the Civil war the fortress had 111 smoothbore cannons. Alcatraz was also used to house prisoners, and from 1859 it confined military convicts, the crew of a confederate ship, and Hopi, Apache and Modoc Indians captured during the Indians wars. In 1933 Alcatraz was transferred from the U.S. Army to the Department of Justice, which used it as a federal penitentiary until its closing in 1963.
This page contains 42 photos of Alcatraz, with pictures covering the island from the jail cells to various rundown and dilapidated buildings no longer used such as the storehouse, power plant, and Warden's house.