By Steve Kovacs (Introduction by Chuck Gibson)

LOVELAND, OH (June 11, 2024) – In this edition of Fun with Maps we read the history – lighthouse, military installation…tourist attraction – of an island in the S. F. Bay.


Likely the most notorious U.S. prison lasted as such for only 29 years, closing in 1963.  Previously it was a lighthouse and military installation.  Native Americans occupied it for 18 months soon after it ceased to be a prison.  Now it is a major tourist attraction.

Alcatraz, 1.5 miles off San Francisco.

Escaping this small island was difficult, not only because of the structure in the and on the rock and guards, but also because of the frigid water temperatures, strong currents and sharks.

Three guys dug a hole from one of their cells to a utility tunnel, and fabricated life preservers to keep them afloat once they jumped into the water.  They escaped on June 11, 1962.

The FBI concluded that they most likely drowned and were carried out to the Pacific Ocean by the currents.  But the Bureau does not have any clear evidence for their assertion, so we call this one the only potentially successful escape from Alcatraz.

This view of San Francisco from the 1880s is by Magnus.  Alcatraz is in the upper left.

Panoramic of San Francisco – 1880’s (Credit Steve Kovacs)

Steve Kovacs and his wife Theresa reside in Loveland, Ohio where they raised their two children. He is a passionate collector of antique maps.

Visit his antique map boutique world-on-paper online. Watch for his daily feature Steve Kovacs: Fun with Maps here on Loveland Beacon.