Light house and Wardens house on Alcatraz Island. Alcatraz, aka "The Rock", was first established as a military fort in the 1850s by the US Army. During the Civil War, it became a military prison and in 1934, a federal maximum security prison for high-risk civilian prisoners. Out of 36 inmates attempting to escape, none succeeded. In 1963, due to the inability to restore & maintain it, the prison was closed. San Francisco, CA.