The original condition of D-Block is recorded here by a photo of A-Block.

Following the 1939 escape attempt in which Arthur "Doc" Barker was killed, the BOP appropriated money for the construction of a more secure D-Block. Contact between D-Block and the general population was negated. The cells faced the Golden Gate, from which cold winds blew. One guard is reported to have turned on the air conditioning to make it even chillier for Alcatraz's worst.

Many famous inmates spent time here including Alvin Karpis, Harmon Waley, Robert Stroud, Basil Banghart, Sam Shockley, and Rufus Franklin.

In 1946, new D-block came under heavy bombardment by the BOP and U.S. Marines during the May "Blast-Out".

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