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Alcatraz Prison - Research Paper Example

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Alcatraz Prison Name of the Student Subject Name of the Concerned Professor April 26, 2011 Alcatraz Prison Introduction Alcatraz is an island placed in the San Francisco Bay. It is located at a distance of 1.5 miles from San Francisco, California. People often do prefer to call this island ‘The Rock’…
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Download file to see previous pages In the current context, National Park Service operates Alcatraz as a historic site, lying within the domain of Golden Gate National Recreation Area (Wellman, 2008). Hence, Alcatraz is open to all tourists interested in visiting an exploring this historical landmark. Tourists can board a ferry from San Francisco to reach Alcatraz. It is not without a reason that Alcatraz prison has often featured in a range of cultural expressions like Hollywood movies, literature, TV programs, games and comics (Oliver, 1998). In a broader perspective, Alcatraz prison commands significant historical and cultural significance. Thus, it will be quiet interesting to delve on varied aspects of Alcatraz prison. The Name It was in the year 1775 that the Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala passed the Golden Gate bay area in the ship San Carlos (Wellman, 2008). On coming across the island under consideration, Juan named it Isla de Las Alcatraces or ‘The Island of the Pelicans’ (Wellman, 2008). Ironically, going by the history of Alcatraz, pelicans are the last thing one conjures up while thinking about this prison. Juan named it so after being inspired by the large Pelican population residing in the area (Wellman, 2008). With the passage of time, the original name of this island got Americanized to be Alcatraz. As long as the Spanish held sway in this area, they did not use this island for any civil or military purposes, because of it being barren and inhospitable (Wellman, 2008). Military Base It was sometime in 1827 that the US military identified Alcatraz as a potential military base, considering its strategic location on the West Coast (Stuller, 1999). After a series of geographical and topographic surveys, the US military started constructing a fortress and a lighthouse at Alcatraz in 1853 (Stuller, 1999). In 1840, with the onset of Gold Rush, people from all around the world started crowding the West Coast to try their luck at finding gold. Thus, it became evident to the United States government that it needs to seriously protect its land and mineral wealth from the coveting foreign powers and populations. It was with much hard work and toil that Alcatraz, garrisoned with impressive artillery and firepower, began to be recognized as an icon of the American military power (Stuller, 1999). Though, Alcatraz never saw real action throughout its existence as a military base, its stature as an intimidating army base continued to stay for many years (Stuller, 1999). With the coming into vogue of the modern weaponry, the military significance of Alcatraz gradually dwindled over time. Military Prison Later on the American military came to the conclusion that the island could serve as an excellent military prison, courtesy its disheartening isolation, and the unfriendly freezing waters surrounding the island, home to some of the most insurmountable water currents. In 1861, the army incarcerated several Civil War prisoners at Alcatraz (Wellman, 2008). The prisoner population at Alcatraz further augmented during the 1898 Spanish-American war (Wellman, 2008). The 1906 San Francisco earthquake further added to the Alcatraz prison population, as a large number of Civil War prisoners were transferred there for safe confinement (Wellman, 2008). The framework and structure of the Alcatraz prison was further expanded by the US military in 1912 (Wellman, 2008). This was not without a reason. By 1920, this prison was already running to its full capacity (Wellman, 2008). Again, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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