Civil War fortress, infamous federal prison, bird sanctuary, first lighthouse on the West Coast, and the birthplace of the American Indian Red Power movement are a few of the stories of the Rock. In the early 1970's the National Park Service, Historic Preservation Division of the Denver Service Center, commissioned historian Erwin N. Thompson to write a Historic Resource Study of Alcatraz Island shortly after the island was transferred to Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
On January 4, 1895, the San Francisco Call published a story under the headline "A Batch of Apaches." The article stated, "Nineteen murderous-looking Apache Indians were landed at Alcatraz island yesterday morning." The article misidentified the 19 Hopi men who had been arrested at Orayvi the previous November. The article is filled with racial stereotypes of murderous and "crafty redskins" who refused to live according to the "civilized ways of the white men."
Part of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Alcatraz Island is one of San Francisco’s (and California’s) most famous landmarks. Rich in history, Alcatraz is home to the famous prison that once housed the likes of Al Capone and George "Machine Gun" Kelly. Alcatraz also features a lighthouse and a historic U.S. military fort, plus one of the best views in the Bay Area--if it's not foggy. Catch a ride on Alcatraz Cruises and learn all about the Rock’s famous residents. You'll also find rotating exhibits, including information on historic events such as the American Indian occupation of Alcatraz in the 1970s, fascinating military history, and stories about the island's challenging living conditions. Audio tours are excellent.
The island is also an incredible spot to view nesting seabirds, allowing visitors a chance to see these beautiful birds much closer than normal. Be sure to bring your binoculars and peer at cormorants, pigeon guillemots, snowy egrets, gulls, and black-crowned night herons.
National Park Alcatraz Island
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
San Francisco, CA 94123
Phone: (415) 556-0560