Today in History: Prisoners land on Alcatraz

Alcatraz by the Numbers
81 years ago today, the first federal prisoners arrived at Alcatraz Island. On August 11, 1934, the "most dangerous" prisoners in the United States were put on the mysterious island situated 1.5 miles off the coast of San Francisco.

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The island of Alcatraz was thought to be ideal for dangerous prisoners, especially those with who had made previous escape attempts. The first shipment of prisoners arrived on August 11, and in late August month, infamous mobster Al Capone joined the bunch.



The prison ran for 29 years before being closed in 1963, due to the high costs of maintaining the island. In 1972, Alcatraz was re-opened, not as a jail, but as a historical landmark. It is maintained by the National Park Service and is a prominent tourist attraction to more than one million visitors each year.

Want to explore more of Alcatraz's history? See more photos here:

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History of Alcatraz
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Today in History: Prisoners land on Alcatraz
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1900: Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, CA (Photo by Buyenlarge/Getty Images)
View along a cell block in Alcatraz Penitentiary, San Francisco, California, March 20, 1911. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
A police mug shot of Canadian-born Gangster Alvin 'Creepy' Karpis (1907 - 1979), circa 1930. Best known for his alliance with the Barker gang in the U.S. in the early 1930s, Karpis was the last so-called 'Public Enemy' to be arrested and spent longer (25 years) in prison on Alcatraz Island than any other inmate there. (Photo by FPG/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
circa 1933: A photograph of Jewish-American gangster Irving Wexler, aka Waxey Gordon, who was convicted of income tax evasion in 1933. He was released, but later convicted of selling narcotics and sent to Alcatraz, where he died in 1952. (Photo by Archive Photos/Getty Images)
View dated 1930's of the Alcatraz island and penitentiary, in the San Francisco Bay. From the mid 1930's until the mid 1960's, Alcatraz ('the Rock') was America's premier maximum-security prison, the final stop for the nation's most incorrigible inmates, including Al Capone. (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) Photo shows general view of the penitentiary on Alcatraz Island.
(Original Caption) Outside the Golden Gate. Alcatraz Island, for many years the great military prison of the west, in sight of the Golden Gate of San Francisco, as seen from the air. It covers about twenty acres and is a mile distant from the nearest shore. It is sometimes called the battleship because of its peculiar shape resembling a dreadnought.
Southwest view on Cell Block 'A' in Alcatraz Prison, Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay, United States. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) This is an exclusive airview of Alcatraz Island Federal Penitentiary where a riot broke out among the convicts May 2nd. This photo was taken several months before.
(Original Caption) An unidentified guard at Alcatraz prison operates the 'snitch box,' the electronic metal detector. The country's only Federal maximum security prison was thrown open for the first time for a mass visit by photographers and newsmen. All visitors to this island prison must empty pockets of metal objects in order to get by the electric eye of the 'snitch box.' The articles were then reclaimed on the way out.
(Original Caption) Senior officer Melvin R. Kidney is shown in Alcatraz control center, which is completely enclosed.
Alcatraz Yard and prisoners, San Francisco, California, circa 1940. (Photo by PhotoQuest/Getty Images)
Instigators of the prison break and resulting riots at Alcatraz prison. From left to right: Marvin Hubbard, Bernard Paul Coy-the ringleader, and Clarence Carnes.
(Original Caption) Tourists use pay telescopes at Fisherman's Wharf to get a look at Alcatraz Island, former Federal penitentiary. The island was recently occupied by young American Indian demonstrators who want the site to become an American Indian cultural and educational center.
(GERMANY OUT) im Hintergrund die Gef�gnisinsel Alcatraz - 1995 (Photo by Otto Fischer/ullstein bild via Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 22: (THE SUN OUT, THE SUN ON SUNDAY OUT) General view of Alcatraz during a visit to on July 22, 2016 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
Alcatraz is seen in San Francisco, California on October 9, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES - APRIL 15: The bath is seen in 'The Rock' former high-security prison and now visited by tourists as a museum in San Francisco Bay of California, on April 15, 2015. 'The Rock', the island of Alcatraz served first as a military fortification, before it became a federal penitentiary in 1934. Now Alcatraz is national recreation area under the supervision of the National Park Service (NPS) with more than a million visitors a year taking the short ferry ride from San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf to experience the infamous maximum-security prison for high-risk convicts. Alcatraz Island appears often in media and popular culture, including films dating from 1962: The Book of Eli , X-Men: The Last Stand, Catch Me If You Can, The Rock, Murder in the First, Escape from Alcatraz, The Enforcer, Birdman of Alcatraz, and J. J. Abrams' 2012 television series Alcatraz. (Photo by Sabri Celebioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Alcatraz Island is seen in San Francisco Bay April 8, 2016. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES - APRIL 15: The washbasin and closets are seen in 'The Rock' former high-security prison and now visited by tourists as a museum in San Francisco Bay of California, on April 15, 2015. 'The Rock', the island of Alcatraz served first as a military fortification, before it became a federal penitentiary in 1934. Now Alcatraz is national recreation area under the supervision of the National Park Service (NPS) with more than a million visitors a year taking the short ferry ride from San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf to experience the infamous maximum-security prison for high-risk convicts. Alcatraz Island appears often in media and popular culture, including films dating from 1962: The Book of Eli , X-Men: The Last Stand, Catch Me If You Can, The Rock, Murder in the First, Escape from Alcatraz, The Enforcer, Birdman of Alcatraz, and J. J. Abrams' 2012 television series Alcatraz. (Photo by Sabri Celebioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, UNITED STATES - APRIL 15: A hospital room is seen in 'The Rock' former high-security prison and now visited by tourists as a museum in San Francisco Bay of California, on April 15, 2015. 'The Rock', the island of Alcatraz served first as a military fortification, before it became a federal penitentiary in 1934. Now Alcatraz is national recreation area under the supervision of the National Park Service (NPS) with more than a million visitors a year taking the short ferry ride from San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf to experience the infamous maximum-security prison for high-risk convicts. Alcatraz Island appears often in media and popular culture, including films dating from 1962: The Book of Eli , X-Men: The Last Stand, Catch Me If You Can, The Rock, Murder in the First, Escape from Alcatraz, The Enforcer, Birdman of Alcatraz, and J. J. Abrams' 2012 television series Alcatraz. (Photo by Sabri Celebioglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
The main Prison also known as Broadway inside the historic Alcatraz Jail in San Francisco, California on Wednesday, June 23, 2015. (Photo by Ramin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images)
Abandoned school house on Alcatraz island. Workers families. Pelican takes flight as a boat heads back to city of San Francisco.
A photograph of the Port of San Francisco and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, including views of Fisherman's Wharf, the Embarcadero, several piers, and Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California, 2015. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images).
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According to the International Centre for Prison Studies, the United States has the highest prison population in the world:


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Today in History: Prisoners land on Alcatraz

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Prisoners land on Alcatraz

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