In 1775, Spanish explorer Juan Manuel de Ayala (1745-97) mapped and named uneven Alcatraz Island, christening it La Isla de los Alcatraces, or Island of the Pelicans, due to its huge populace of sea birds. Seventy-five years later, in 1850, President Millard Fillmore (1800-74) signed an arrange keep the island for military use. During the 1850s, a fortress was built on Alcatraz and some 100 cannons were installed around the island to defend San Francisco Bay.
By the late 1850s, the U.S. Army had begun asset military prisoners at Alcatraz. Lonely from the mainland by the cold, strong waters of San Francisco Bay, the island believed an ideal position for a prison. It was assumed no Alcatraz convict could challenge to escape by swimming and endure.
During its years as a military jail, the inmates at Alcatraz integrated Confederate supporter and citizens accused of unfaithfulness during the American Civil War (1861-65). Alcatraz also housed a number of "rebellious" American Indians, together with 19 Hopis from the Arizona Territory who were sent to the jail in 1895 following land difference with the federal government. The convict populace at Alcatraz sustained to rise through the Spanish-American War (1898).
During the early 20th century, prisoner work fueled the structure of a new cell house (the 600-cell structure still stands today) on Alcatraz, along with a hospital, mess hall and other jail buildings. According to the National Park Service, when this new multifaceted was finished in 1912 it was the world's largest unbreakable existing building.
Among those who did time at The Rock was the dishonorable Prohibition-era criminal Al "Scarface" Capone, who spent four-and-a-half years there during the 1930s. His arrival on the island produces headlines across America. Capone was sent to Alcatraz because his detention in Atlanta, Georgia, had allowed him to continue in contact with the outside world and continue to run his illegal operation in Chicago. He was also known to fraudulent prison officers. All of that finished when he was sent to Alcatraz. According to the memoirs "Capone" by John Kobler, Capone once told the warden, "It looks like Alcatraz has got me defeat."