«

»

Aug 11 2012

On This Day In History August 11

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

August 11 is the 223rd day of the year (224th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 142 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1934, the first Federal prisoners arrived at Alcatraz.

A group of federal prisoners classified as “most dangerous” arrives at Alcatraz Island, a 22-acre rocky outcrop situated 1.5 miles offshore in San Francisco Bay. The convicts–the first civilian prisoners to be housed in the new high-security penitentiary–joined a few dozen military prisoners left over from the island’s days as a U.S. military prison.

Alcatraz was an uninhabited seabird haven when it was explored by Spanish Lieutenant Juan Manuel de Ayala in 1775. He named it Isla de los Alcatraces, or “Island of the Pelicans.” Fortified by the Spanish, Alcatraz was sold to the United States in 1849. In 1854, it had the distinction of housing the first lighthouse on the coast of California. Beginning in 1859, a U.S. Army detachment was garrisoned there, and from 1868 Alcatraz was used to house military criminals. In addition to recalcitrant U.S. soldiers, prisoners included rebellious Indian scouts, American soldiers fighting in the Philippines who had deserted to the Filipino cause, and Chinese civilians who resisted the U.S. Army during the Boxer Rebellion. In 1907, Alcatraz was designated the Pacific Branch of the United States Military Prison.

In 1934, Alcatraz was fortified into a high-security federal penitentiary designed to hold the most dangerous prisoners in the U.S. penal system, especially those with a penchant for escape attempts. The first shipment of civilian prisoners arrived on August 11, 1934. Later that month, more shiploads arrived, featuring, among other convicts, infamous mobster Al Capone. In September, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, another luminary of organized crime, landed on Alcatraz.

By decision of Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, the penitentiary was closed on March 21, 1963. It was closed because it was far more expensive to operate than other prisons (nearly $10 per prisoner per day, as opposed to $3 per prisoner per day at Atlanta), half a century of salt water saturation  had severely eroded the buildings, and the bay was being badly polluted by the sewage from the approximately 250 inmates and 60 Bureau of Prisons families on the island. The United States Penitentiary in Marion, Illinois, a traditional land-bound prison, opened that same year to serve as a replacement for Alcatraz.

The entire Alcatraz Island was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976, and was further declared a National Historic Landmark in 1986. In 1993, the National Park Service published a plan entitled Alcatraz Development Concept and Environmental Assessment.  This plan, approved in 1980, doubled the amount of Alcatraz accessible to the public to enable visitors to enjoy its scenery and bird, marine, and animal life, such as the California slender salamander.

Today American Indian groups such as the International Indian Treaty Council hold ceremonies on the island, most notably, their “Sunrise Gatherings” every Columbus and Thanksgiving Day.

 3114 BC – The Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, used by several pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations, notably the Mayans, begins.

2492 BC – Traditional date of the defeat of Bel by Hayk, progenitor and founder of the Armenian nation.

480 BC – Greco-Persian Wars: Battle of Artemisium – the Persians achieve a naval victory over the Greeks in an engagement fought near Artemisium, a promontory on the north coast of Euboea.

355 – Claudius Silvanus, accused of treason, proclaims himself Roman Emperor against Constantius II.

1755 – Charles Lawrence gives expulsion orders to remove the Acadians from Nova Scotia beginning the Great Upheaval.

1786 – Captain Francis Light establishes the British colony of Penang in Malaysia

1804 – Francis II assumes the title of first Emperor of Austria.

1898 – Spanish-American War: American troops enter the city of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.

1918 – World War I – Battle of Amiens ends.

1919 – Constitution of Weimar Republic adopted.

1920 – The Latvia-Bolshevist Russia peace treaty, which relinquished Russia’s authority and pretenses to Latvia, is signed.

1929 – Babe Ruth becomes the first baseball player to hit 500 home runs in his career with a home run at League Park in Cleveland, Ohio.

1929 – The Bud Billiken Parade and Picnic begins its annual tradition, which is now the oldest and largest African American parade in the United States.

1934 – First civilian prisoners arrive at Federal prison on Alcatraz Island.

1942 – Actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil receive a patent for a frequency hopping, spread spectrum communication system that later became the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi.

1952 – Hussein proclaimed king of Jordan.

1960 – Chad declares independence.

1965 – Race riots (the Watts riots) begin in Watts area of Los Angeles, California.

1972 – Vietnam War: the last United States ground combat unit departs South Vietnam.

1988 – Al-Qaeda is formed.

1999 – The Salt Lake City Tornado tears through the downtown district of the city, killing one.

2003 – NATO takes over command of the peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, marking its first major operation outside Europe in its 54-year-history.

2003 – Jemaah Islamiyah leader Riduan Isamuddin, better known as Hambali, is arrested in Bangkok, Thailand.

2003 – A heat wave in Paris results in temperatures rising to 112 F (44 C), leaving about 144 people dead.

Holidays and observances

   * Christian Feast Day:

       * Attracta

       * Clare of Assisi

       * Fiacre

       * Gaugericus

       * Philomena

       * Susanna

       * Taurinus of Évreux

       * Tiburtius and Chromatius

       * August 11 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Independence Day, celebrates the independence of Chad from France in 1960.