Mar. 21, 1963 - The Federal prison on Alcatraz Island became a hollow, echoing shell today with the removal of the last 27 prisoners (pictured). After nearly 29 years in the Federal prison system, Alcatraz has almost succumbed to the salt air that blows through the Golden Gate. The main building was built as an Army prison in 1909, then converted to a Federal prison on June 19, 1934. Great flakes of rust fell away from steel reinforcements in the basement today as Fred T. Wilkinson, associate director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, brushed his hand across them to show their condition. Wide cracks have appeared in the concrete tiers that pass through the brick walls beneath the prison. The concrete itself is badly decomposed. The last inmate to leave the 29-year-old island prison today was Frank C. Weatherman, 29, a gun smuggler transferred to Alcatraz Dec. 14, 1962 for attempting twice to break out of the Anchorage jail. Asked by a reporter how it felt to be the last man off “The Rock,” the blond, boyish-looking convict smiled thinly and said: “Good. Good for me, good for everyone. Alcatraz never was no good.” A few minutes after the prison boat chugged off to San Francisco, taking the inmates to new institutions, officer Gordon Gronzo, carrying one rifle and with another slung over his shoulder, formally closed the 75-foot gun tower No. 1 on the east side of the island.
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