Statement of Significance
Begun as a military fortification and the site of the first U.S.
lighthouse on the Pacific Coast (1854), Alcatraz was the first official
Army prison in the nation. In 1934, the facility was transferred to
civilian authority and it became the repository for the most hardened
criminals. Alcatraz represents the far end of the penological spectrum,
designed for punishment and incarceration only, rather than
rehabilitation. The prison was closed in 1963, and ten years
later the island was opened to the public as the first unit of
the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.
Structures damaged by vandalism incurred during the 1969-71
occupation by Native Americans are deteriorated. Cliffs have
collapsed, undermining the Warden's Residence and other structures.
Through a combination of line-item funding, Fee Demonstration,
and funds from concessionaires, substantial work has been undertaken.
Structural analyses have been completed on all buildings and major work
projects have been begun on the Main Cell Block, Casement Barracks,
and Dock. Island-wide preservation maintenance projects have also been
The development concept plan approved in 1993 should be implemented
and treatment of historic structures should be initiated. An analysis
of structural problems of the Main Cell Block was completed in 1994.
An estimated $3.5 million are needed to complete the stabilization
and repairs of the building. The cliffs require stabilization at an
approximate cost of $2 million. Island-wide stabilization costs are
expected to total several million dollars.