Alcatraz Island housed a federal penitentiary from 1934 until 1963 where "difficult-to-manage" prisoners were sent. During its time as a federal prison there were 36 inmates who tried to escape, only three were never recovered (either dead or alive.) Fifty years ago, three inmates escaped from Alcatraz: Frank Morris, John Anglin, and his brother, Charles Anglin. To this date, the U.S. Marshals Service maintains active warrants on the men and continues to follow-up on potential clues.
Prior to serving as a federal prison, Alcatraz was a Civil War fortress and also home to the first lighthouse on the West coast. Today, besides being a large tourist attraction, Alcatraz serves as a bird sanctuary and is also home to many different trees, flowers, and other plants.
Hollywood has long focused on the years Alcatraz spent as a prison. There are many books, movies, and TV shows that feature Alcatraz. "The Rock" is a featured location in numerous movies, with some using Alcatraz as a location and others purporting to be about actual events. These are just a few of the entertaining feature films starring Alcatraz: The Rock, Escape from Alcatraz,The Birdman of Alcatraz, Murder in the First, and Point Blank. If you are looking for more accurate historical information, there are many good books to choose from, including ones that cover specific inmates. Alcatraz served as a prison for less than thirty years, but it how most of us remember it.