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United States, Disciplinary Barracks, Alcatraz Island, c. 1920

Originally developed as a fortress, Alcatraz bacame a prison when the Army recognized that the cold water and swift currents surrounding the island were ideal for this purpose. The first prisoners were a few soldiers confined in the guard house basement in 1859. In 1861 the post was designated as the military prison for the Department of the Pacific.


Lighthouse and Citadel, Alcatraz Island, 1904

The Alcatraz lighthouse began service in 1854 as the first lighthouse on the Pacific Coast. The Citadel, right, was constructed in 1857 as a defensive barracks. It could hold troops of 200 men during an attack, able to withstand a four month siege. It was demolished between 1908-11 when Alcatraz ceased its role as a fortress.



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