Following the Mexican-American war Alcatraz Island was appropriated by the United States government for military purposes, with the first installations being established just prior to the U.S. Civil War. The fortifications were expanded during the Civil War and utilized through 1933, when the island was transferred to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons. These panoramic images where taken as part of the documention of the remants of the citadel below the prison cells blocks, taken by Historic American Buildings Survey staff architect Paul Davidson and intern Avidan Fernandez.
The current 1912 cellhouse was constructed directly over the first level of a Civil War-era US Army citadel. The “dungeon,” as it is now called, is what remains of the original 1859 fort. From servant’s quarters, to storage, to solitary confinement cells, this space was repurposed numerous times throughout the many eras of Alcatraz Island.