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Building Alcatraz: America’s inescapable, island-ridden prison
Building Alcatraz: America’s escape-proof prison
FOX Business’ ‘American Built’ explores the beginnings of San Francisco’s island-based penitentiary.
San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island set on shark-infested waters was the perfect location for America’s most wanted criminals but building the maximum-security penitentiary wasn’t perfected in a day, FOX Business' "American Built" explores.
After San Francisco’s devastating earthquake in 1906, the city’s prisons were left overwhelmed with relocations which resulted in Sheriff Thomas O’Neill formulating the brilliant idea to build a prison on Alcatraz Island – a then-military prison originally meant to guard the strait in between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay.
Author of "Alcatraz: The Official Guide" Paul McHugh explained that if O’Neill planned to relocate prisoners to Alcatraz that the institution would have to be rebuilt to be much more manageable and secure. As a result, the military hired construction expert Maj. Reuben B. Turner to rebuild the prison for $250,000.
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Alcatraz already had a reputation for prisoners attempting and succeeding in escapes. Turner’s solution was to basically build a prison within a prison within a prison – a 600-cell block surrounded by a 500-foot-long concrete building on top of deadly waters.
"What Turner decided to do was, rather than demolish the entire citadel, just knock off the top two floors, leave the basement intact and build the new reinforced concrete structure right on top of it," Concrete Preservation Institute’s Tanya Komas broke down.