In 1859, Alcatraz Island, in the middle of San Francisco Bay, began hosting a garrison of troops that would be charged with defending the city in the event of an attack by the Confederacy during the Civil War. While the attack never came, the island remained a military base until 1934, when the island's most famous chapter began: It became home to a maximum-security prison. Among those incarcerated here were Al Capone and Robert "Birdman of Alcatraz" Stroud; no prisoner ever escaped. While the penitentiary closed in 1963, more than 50 years later it remains one of San Francisco's most visited sites.
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