The History of Alcatraz Island Essay

The History of Alcatraz Island Essay

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The History of Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island has quite a distinct history. Many people know that Alcatraz served as a federal prison, but most are reluctant to know that this island served as fort. Built before the Civil War, it served two main purposes. First, that it was to guard the San Francisco bay area from enemy ships against a foreign invasion, and second, to hold hostage prisoners of war or POW's as they were called. In this report, I'll show you how this fortress came to be a federal prison, why it is no longer in operation today, and most importantly, to show why it was built in the first place. When the great "Gold Rush" of 1849 first started, California grew from what would be considered a small, unpopulated state, into what it is now. California is now one of the most populated states and it was mostly the gold rush that brought attention to California. As the government saw all of this happening, they realized that California was much more important than they ever realized. In their realization, they decided that California must be protected. San Francisco has one of the largest bays in all of California, and so this was where enemy countries would most likely to try to invade the country. So this is where Alcatraz was to lie, to serve as a military fort. It was supposed to serve as a secondary base in companionship to another base located on the other side of Golden Gate Bridge. But with severe problems trying to build this other base, Alcatraz was to remain alone. "Out in the middle of the San Francisco Bay, the island of Alcatraz is definitely a world unto itself. Isolation is just one of the many constants of island life for any inhabitant on Alcatraz Island. It is the most reoccurring theme in the unfolding history of Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz Island is one of Golden Gate National Recreation Area's most popular destinations, offering a close-up look at a historic and infamous federal prison long off-limits to the public. Visitors to the island can not only explore the remnants of the prison, but learn of the American occupation of 1969 - 1971, early military fortifications and the West Coast's first and oldest operating lighthouse. These structures stand among the island's many natural features - gardens, tidepools, bird nests, and bay views beyond compare." (1) Fortress Alcatraz ran in operation from 1850 - 1933. It served as San Fr...


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...worth THIS?" We can either learn from what valuable lessons that were taught at alcatraz, or we can be ignorant and let it happen again. Alcatraz was considered hostile, cruel, and unjust, and it was. But there was a lesson to be taught, now if we don't learn that human life is the most precious gift that we take for granted, then Alcatraz was a good idea and it needs to be reinstated. But when you allow a man to lose his freedoms that our forefather fought for, with impunity, it is simply the worst thing to happen. Alcatraz was built for a good reason, it served for a good reason. Then it was transformed into "The Rock." Al! l the good that went into was lost. We as a country lost sight of what was important to us, and now if we don't learn from it, we are only asking ourselves for it again.

Bibliography

1. The Alcatraz WWW Homepage, Yahoo Search Engine, 1996

2. Professor Clyde W. Richins, University of Michigan, 1990, Vol. 1 of "In the life of Alcatraz" pages 1944- 46

3. Doctor William M. Hellem, Medical Physician on Alcataz Island, 1983, Vol. 1 of "In the life of Alcatraz" pages 132-134

4.Lutenient George R. Hendershaw, Guard that seved on Alcatraz Island,

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