Alcatraz Island is located in the San Francisco Bay, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) offshore
from San Francisco. Often referred to as "The Rock", the small island was
developed with facilities for a lighthouse, a military fortification, a military
prison (1868), and a federal prison from 1933 until 1963. In 1972, Alcatraz
became a national recreation area and received designation as a National
Historic Landmark in 1986.
Today, the island's facilities are managed by
the National Park Service as part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area;
it is open to tours. Visitors can reach the island by ferry ride from Pier 33,
near Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco. Hornblower Cruises and Events, operating
under the name Alcatraz Cruises, is the official ferry provider to and from the
island. Hornblower launched the nation's first hybrid propulsion ferry in 2008,
the Hornblower Hybrid, which now serves the island, docking at the Alcatraz
It is home to the abandoned prison, the site of the oldest
operating lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States, early military
fortifications, and natural features such as rock pools and a seabird colony
(mostly Western Gulls, cormorants, and egrets). According to a 1971 documentary
on the History of Alcatraz, the island measures 1,675 feet (511 m) by 590 feet
(180 m) and is 135 feet (41 m) at highest point during mean tide.
Landmarks on the island include the Main Cellhouse, Dining Hall, Library,
Lighthouse, the ruins of the Warden's House and Officers Club, Parade Grounds,
Building 64, Water Tower, New Industries Building, Model Industries Building,
and the Recreation Yard.