The place where Al Capone was broken: legends and horrors of Alcatraz

The place where Al Capone was broken: legends and horrors of Alcatraz

Categories: North America

On March 21, 1963, the last 27 prisoners left the famous Alcatraz prison forever. According to the official version, this was done because the costs of maintaining prisoners on the island were too high. Today this place is considered one of the most famous prisons in history. Although Alcatraz’s biography is short - only 29 years old. Compared to places of detention, whose history goes back centuries, it does not look particularly impressive. The great fame of Alcatraz is largely a product of “promotion” already in those days when its inhabitants were not criminals, but tourists.

Nevertheless, Alcatraz keeps many secrets and mysteries. On the anniversary of the closure of the legendary prison, we invite you to remember them.

The place where Al Capone was broken: legends and horrors of Alcatraz

The place where Al Capone was broken: legends and horrors of Alcatraz

The location in the middle of a bay with icy water and strong sea currents ensured the island's natural isolation. Thanks to this, Alcatraz became an ideal place for holding prisoners of war, and at the end of the 19th century the first prison was built here. Civilian prisoners appeared in 1906, after a powerful earthquake destroyed San Francisco along with its prison. Then hundreds of criminals were urgently transported to Alcatraz, and a new stage in the history of this place began.

The place where Al Capone was broken: legends and horrors of Alcatraz

In the 30s, Alcatraz began to be considered a special prison, where those criminals were sent whose mafia ties could not be broken anywhere else. This is exactly what they did with Al Capone. The charismatic head of the Chicago mafia in Alcatraz has lost all his luster, influence and authority. The prison management assigned him to the most unprestigious and humiliating jobs, and the mafia boss soon turned into an outcast, whom the guards themselves had to protect from humiliation from other prisoners. One day, Capone even received a blow from another prisoner with a sharpener in the prison barbershop.

The place where Al Capone was broken: legends and horrors of Alcatraz

Alcatraz prison was famous for the fact that during the 29 years of its existence there was not a single successful escape from it. In total, 34 convicts tried to escape, as a result, seven were shot, two drowned, five went missing, the rest were captured and brought back.

The most famous escape attempt from Alcatraz took place in 1962, shortly before the prison was closed. On June 11, Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin managed to knock a hole in the wall leading to a service tunnel. Leaving papier-mâché dolls in their place, the fugitives got out of the prison and tried to swim across the bay on a raft made from rubber raincoats and inflated with a concertina.

How this carefully planned escape ended remains unknown even half a century later. Authorities believe the trio drowned. But the Anglin brothers’ relatives said that they subsequently received a postcard from them from South America. However, neither the fact of death nor the fact of the success of the event has been proven to anyone so far.

The place where Al Capone was broken: legends and horrors of Alcatraz

In 1946, a group escape was conceived less inventively, but more bloodily. Bernard Coy, sentenced to 20 years for bank robbery, managed to get to the weapons warehouse unnoticed by the guards, after which he armed himself and his accomplices. The criminals managed to capture and lock nine guards in a cell. The prisoners intended to seize the boat and, using hostages as cover, get to San Francisco. However, the rioters did not immediately find the key to leave their prison building, and selecting the right one from those they took from the guards led to the lock being blocked.

The mutiny in the prison became known to the authorities, who immediately brought police officers, FBI agents and even marines to Alcatraz. The authorities stormed the captured building, suppressing the riot. As a result, two guards and three prisoners were killed, and 14 guards and one prisoner were injured. Two more riot participants were sentenced to death. This confrontation, which took place from May 2 to 4, 1946, went down in history as the Battle of Alcatraz.

The place where Al Capone was broken: legends and horrors of Alcatraz

According to the official version, the prison was closed due to the high costs of maintaining prisoners. In addition, Alcatraz required repairs amounting to 3 to 5 million dollars. In addition, housing prisoners on the island was too expensive compared to a mainland prison, since everything regularly had to be imported from the mainland.

Following the closure, many ways to further use the island were discussed. For example, it was proposed to place a UN monument there. In 1969, a group of Indians from various tribes moved to the island, effectively taking over it. Relocation was made possible by the federal Indian Free Removal Act of 1934. During their stay on the island, which lasted for two years, the Indians burned large fires in the buildings and painted the walls.

The place where Al Capone was broken: legends and horrors of Alcatraz

In 1971, the government decided to make Alcatraz part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The new life of Alcatraz was helped by the all-American popularity of Al Capone - it turned out that tens of thousands of people dream of visiting the place where the famous gangster was imprisoned. And since 1973, the former Alcatraz prison has become a tourist destination, now visited by up to a million people a year.

And in 2010, the island of Alcatraz, which also has the second name Rock (“Rock”), was chosen by the masters of street basketball. Now the main street basketball tournament in the world, Red Bull King of the Rock, is being held in a former prison yard.

As a result, Alcatraz finally turned into a sociocultural phenomenon known throughout the world. Perhaps this is not the worst transformation for a former prison.

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