Garden outside the Citadel.

Military Period - The Post on Alcatraces & U.S. Disciplinary Barracks - 1850-1933

In 1850 Alcatraz was declared a military reservation by President Millard Fillmore, and by 1859 troops were permanently garrisoned at the post on Alcatraces for the defense of the Bay Area.

To learn more about the military history of Alcatraz, from 1850 to 1934. please visit the Post on Alcatraces page. For more in depth information, visit the timeline of the U.S. Army's military period.

To learn more about Fort Alcatraz' role during the Civil War, please visit the Civil War at Alcatraz page.

Armed correctional officer in guard tower.
Bureau of Prisons Period - U.S. Penitentiary Alcatraz - 1934-1963

Alcatraz is most famous for the 29 years it operated as a U.S. penitentiary. Learn how Alcatraz evolved from an army post that contained an army prison into U.S. Penitentiary Alcatraz.

Due to the influence of Hollywood, Alcatraz's fame often includes underground tunnels and haunted dungeons. While these places do exist, the supernatural elements can be better explained as the remains of a dark and complicated history.

Tipi on Alcatraz during American Indian Occupation
Indians of All Tribes Occupation - 1969-1971

In 1964, and again in 1969, American Indians--many whose tribes were being terminated by federal policy--laid claim to Alcatraz Island. Their 19-month occupation would cause a great change in federal policy towards American Indians that would save the tribes. Learn more about the very important historic occupation by Indians of All Tribes.

Last updated: August 28, 2019

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Alcatraz Island
Golden Gate National Recreation Area
B201 Fort Mason

San Francisco, CA 94123


(415) 561-4900

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