Imagine yourself existing in a dirty, smelly, cold prison cell that has water dripping down the walls from the ceiling and hardly ever seeing daylight. If you were a guest at Alcatraz, that is exactly what you would experience.
Alcatraz was a Federal Prison located in the San Francisco Bay. It was built on a twelve acre, solid rock island, one mile from the main land. There were no roads or bridges built to get there. The only access was by boat. The name Alcatraz means Pelican or strange bird. The reason it was named that was because when it was being built it had a lot of strange birds on it. It was built in 1933 as a federal maximum security prison. But prior to Alcatraz being built it had been a military prison and before that an Indian Reservation.
There have been several famous inmates who served time at Alcatraz. A short list would include Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Robert “Birdman” Stroud.
Al Capone was convicted of mass murder after ordering his gang of mobsters to gun down 9 members of a rival mobster family execution style. It was said to be the most brutal mass murder in history. He was held at Cook County Jail in Chicago until arrangements could be made for his transfer to Atlanta. On May 4, 1932 he started his prison sentence there. It was not until August of 1934 that he was transferred to Alcatraz. He spent 4 1/2years there. It wasn't an easy time for “Big Al”. He got in a fight with another prisoner and was put in isolation for eight days. He was also stabbed with a pair of shears while he was getting his hair cut. After being diagnosed with a terminal disease in 1938, he was transferred to Terminal Island Prison in Southern California to serve out the remainder of his sentence. He was released in November of 1939 and died in his Palm Beach Mansion on January 25, 1947.
George “Machine Gun” Kelly got his name by waving around a machine gun, threatening to blow everybody's he