2003: The year the Gardens of Alcatraz partnered with the U.S. National Park Service to restore and maintain them. When it was an active prison, Alcatraz officers and their families planted magnificent gardens, and, since its closing, the hardy plants they chose withstood decades of neglect. Today, they offer guided tours of the gardens a few days a week, taking visitors to Officers’ Row and the Rose Terrace, which are off limits to other visitors.
36: The number of inmates involved in the only 14 attempts to escape Alcatraz in its 29-year history. Officially, every escape attempt failed, and most inmates were either killed or quickly re-captured. However, inmates in the 1937 and 1962 attempts, though presumed dead, disappeared without a trace, giving rise to popular theories that they were successful.
Al Capone: This notorious gangster and mob boss was among the first prisoners to occupy Alcatraz in August 1934. While in Atlanta, Capone received preferential treatment by bribing guards, but this all changed after his transfer to the island prison. The conditions broke Capone, and he became so cooperative while at Alcatraz that he was permitted to play the banjo in the Alcatraz prison band, the Rock Islanders. They gave regular Sunday concerts for the other inmates.
1969: During this year, Native Americans, in the hopes of creating a Native American cultural center and education complex, took the island hostage for their own agenda. Initially, public support for the Native Americans was strong, and thousands of people came to the island over the next 18 months, but the Native American leadership group couldn’t control the situation, and a lot of damage was endured (graffiti, vandalism, and a fire that destroyed the lighthouse keeper’s home, the Warden’s home, and the Officer’s Club). It wasn’t until 1971 that the Federal Marshals removed the remaining Native Americans from the island.
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