Alcatraz was home to many infamous inmates including Al Capone, George "Machine Gun" Kelly and Robert Stroud, the birdman of Alcatraz.
The original Spanish name was "La Isla de los Alcatraces" or Island of the Pelicans.
Alcatraz Lighthouse #1, built in 1853, was the first lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States. The current lighthouse is the second on the site and was completed in 1909.
The island was used as a military prison during the Civil War, Spanish American War and World War I.
No prisoner ever successfully escaped from Alcatraz. Those that did make it off the island were drowned, shot or recaptured.
In 1969, a group of American Indians calling themselves the "Indians of All Tribes" began an 18 month occupation of the island. They claimed the island under the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty which stated that all unused federal land was to be returned to the native people. The protesters were finally evacuated, but new policies were established by the U.S. government because of the event.