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Alcatraz Island/ is in the harbor of San Francisco, California. It is best known/ for being a federal prison, which was also called/ “The Rock.” It was once the most famous prison/ in America.

Alcatraz/ was a military prison/ from the late eighteen fifties/ until the nineteen thirties. Then it became a federal prison/ for the country’s worst criminals. These/ included murderers, bank robbers and kidnappers. One of the main reasons/ federal officials/ chose Alcatraz Island/ to detain these prisoners/ was because they thought/ it would be impossible/ for prisoners/ to escape.

Cold, deep and dangerous waters/ surround the island. Also, the distance/ between the island and San Francisco/ is too far/ for most humans/ to swim. No prisoner/ was ever officially reported/ to have successfully escaped.

However, in nineteen sixty-two, three men/ broke out of the prison. Each man/ worked very hard/ at night/ for many months/ to cut through the stone wall/ of his cell. They made false heads/ out of paper, paint and hair. On the night/ of June eleventh, the men/ placed the heads/ in their beds/ to make it look/ as if they were sleeping. Then, the prisoners escaped/ through the holes/ in their cells/ to get to the water. The men/ were never seen or heard from/ again. It is believed/ that they drowned/ while trying to swim/ to San Francisco.

The prison/ closed/ in nineteen sixty-three/ because of the high cost of keeping prisoners there/ and the need for major repairs. The last prisoners/ were moved to other jails.

In nineteen seventy-two, the United States Congress/ passed a bill/ creating the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Alcatraz Island and the old prison/ are part of this area.

Each year, more than one million people/ visit Alcatraz/ to see the prisoners’ cells/ and listen to stories/ about the jail’s history. But unlike the prisoners/ who once lived there, visitors/ can escape/ from the prison/ whenever they want/ and return back/ across the harbor/ to San Francisco.

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