In 1995, the event was rebranded as "Terror Behind the Walls", becoming a high startle, low gore walkthrough haunted attraction. Paranormal TV shows like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, BuzzFeed Unsolved and MTV's Fear explored the paranormal at Eastern State. Crude prisons existed only to contain criminals until they went to trial. When the prison finished its construction in 1829, it was the enormous building in the US. From 1967, when the plan was initiated, the program appears to have been moderately successful as many inmates were involved in the groups which were voluntary. Eastern State's revolutionary system of incarceration, dubbed the "Pennsylvania system" or separate system, encouraged separate confinement as a form of rehabilitation. History & Context Eastern State Penitentiary. Eastern State Penitentiary is a 9.8-acre abandoned prison in Philadelphia. Once you’ve got your headset, you’re off on a self-guided tour. In the fall of 1829, the penitentiary opened to admit its first priso… Eastern State's revolutionary system of incarceration, dubbed the "Pennsylvania system" or separate system, encouraged separate confinement as a form of rehabilitation. Eastern State was functional for 141 years until 1970 when the prison closed down. , When the Eastern State Penitentiary, or Cherry Hill as it was known at the time, was erected in 1829 in Francisville (the idea of this new prison was created in a meeting held at Benjamin Franklin's house in 1787) it was the largest and most expensive public structure in the country. 7) In 1929, mobster Al Capone served seven months in Eastern State Penitentiary for carrying a concealed unlicensed weapon, the first prison sentence in his illustrious history of crime. A ghost named James Clark, who was murdered by Al Capone, was said to also appear and haunt the inmates of the penitentiary. Eastern State Penitentiary is an imposing and dark landmark in Philadelphia’s historic landscape, and its history is still incredibly important not just for the city, but the history of criminal justice reform and incarceration as a whole. Eastern State Penitentiary History. Each cell was lit only by a single lighting source from either skylights or windows, which was considered the "Window of God" or "Eye of God".  The 2000 film Animal Factory, directed by Steve Buscemi relied heavily on Eastern State in its portrayal of a prison in a state of advancing decay. This Gothic-like structure towered over Philadelphia. By 1913, Eastern State officially abandoned the solitary system and operated as a congregate prison until it closed in 1970 (Eastern State was briefly used to house city inmates in 1971 after a riot at Holmesburg Prison). , Prior to its closing in late 1969, Eastern State Penitentiary (then known as State Correctional Institution, Philadelphia) had established a far reaching program of group therapy with the goal of having all inmates involved. Exc amet. Most of the early prisoners were petty criminals incarcerated for various robbery and theft charges (muggers, pickpockets, purse-snatchers, burglars, etc.) Apparel; Accessories; Books; Drinkware; Home Decor; Magnets; Plush and Toys; Sale; Online Store. To minimize the opportunities for communication between inmates Haviland designed a basic flush toilet for each cell with individual pipes leading to a central sewer which he hoped would prevent the sending of messages between adjacent cells. In the PlayStation 2 game The Suffering, players can find a video documentary of Eastern State Penitentary, one of the inspirations for the game. Prisoners were allowed to garden and even keep pets in their exercise yards. In 1994, Eastern State opened to the public for history tours. The design for the penitentiary which Haviland devised became known as the hub-and-spoke plan which consisted of an octagonal center connected by corridors to seven radiating single-story cell blocks, each containing two ranges of large single cells—8 × 12 feet × 10 feet high—with hot water heating, a water tap, toilet, and individual exercise yards the same width as the cell. The prison was constructed to confine 253 prisoners, each one of them has an isolated confinement cell. Pep allegedly murdered the governor's wife's cherished cat. SCI Graterford opened in the 1920s after disturbances occurred at Eastern State; the Pennsylvania prison board opened Graterford to assume functions previously held by Eastern State. An interesting aspect was that the groups were led by two therapists, one from the psych or social work staff, and the second from the prison officer staff. At the time of its completion, the Eastern State Penitentiary was the most expensive public structure ever built, and the design was later copied to create another 300 prisons worldwide. You’ll start at the far end of Cell Block 1 which will ultimately lead you to the hub of the prison. Eastern State Penitentiary Museum Store. The site had several proposals, including a mall and a luxury apartment complex surrounded by the old prison walls. The halls were designed to have the feel of a church. The solitary confinement system eventually collapsed due to overcrowding problems. , The 2014 event included six attractions: Lock Down, The Machine Shop, Detritus, Infirmary, The Experiment, and Night Watch. ), The museum attracts close to 220,000 visitors each year. Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary was built in the 1820s, inspired by Enlightenment ideas and Quaker belief in solitary reflection and penitence. Guided tours are offered during the winter, and during the warmer months, self-guided recorded tours with headphones are also available (narrated mainly by Steve Buscemi, with former guards, wardens and prisoners also contributing). For the show, the prison was renamed Northern State Penitentiary. A 5-page history and a 571-page history, available for free download. The Eastern State Penitentiary looms over Philadelphia like an ominous fortress.. The City of Philadelphia purchased the property with the intention of redeveloping it. Many prisoners and guards were transferred to Graterford Prison, about 31 miles (50 km) northwest of Eastern State. The cells were made of concrete with a single glass skylight, representing the "Eye of God", suggesting to the prisoners that God was always watching them. In the 1890s, Eastern State Penitentiary's seven cellblocks radiated from a room known as "Center." Our online store is open and we are accepting orders!  Once construction of the prison was completed in 1836, it could house 450 prisoners.. This in-depth, live virtual group tour explores the history of Eastern State and the experiences of the men, women and children who lived and worked behind its walls. Each cell was solitary confinement for the prisoner’s entire sentence. Eastern State’s history matters today more than ever. Notorious criminals such as Al Capone and bank robber Willie Sutton were held inside its innovative wagon wheel design. Toilets were remotely flushed twice a week by the guards of the cellblock. The first time I visited the city was in 2019, and I was struck by the abandoned prison's dark force as my family drove past. Hotels near Eastern State Penitentiary: (1.02 mi) Cornerstone Bed & Breakfast (0.87 mi) The Windsor Suites (1.08 mi) Pod Philly Hotel (0.31 mi) Rodin Square Condos By Barsala (1.26 mi) AKA University City; View all hotels near Eastern State Penitentiary on Tripadvisor Eastern State held the likes of Willie Sutton and Al Capone. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners. The first Halloween fundraiser took place on Halloween weekend in 1991. In September 2008, the History Press released Eastern State Penitentiary: A History, the only comprehensive history book currently in print about Eastern State. But the prison wasn't just known for its towering spires and its resume of inmates; the Eastern State Penitentiary was notable because it was supposed to be the first true … Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania by Carol Highsmith. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa. (This Philadelphia tradition sadly ended in 2018. choosing a selection results in a full page refresh; Opens in a new window. This design proved impractical, and in the middle of construction, cells were constructed that allowed prisoners to enter and leave the cell blocks through metal doors that were covered by a heavy wooden door to filter out noise. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners. When it’s safe to reopen, you can enjoy our full array of benefits including free admission, guest passes and more. It was written by Paul Kahan, a historian and former tour guide, with the assistance of the site's education director; the book has a foreword written by the penitentiary's former social worker. Their affairs were to be sorted out between themselves, and the guards role incorporated punishment consisting of abuse.  Its architectural significance first arose in 1821, when British architect John Haviland was chosen to design the building. You move at your own pace and can start/stop/repeat the narration and adjust the volume as needed. Still today, people report hearing scared screams, talking, whispering, footsteps, laughing, and even crying. of Pa. U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, Grand Army of the Republic Civil War Museum and Library, National Museum of American Jewish History, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Eastern_State_Penitentiary&oldid=991751055, Historic American Buildings Survey in Philadelphia, Government buildings on the National Register of Historic Places in Philadelphia, National Historic Landmarks in Pennsylvania, Reportedly haunted locations in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania state historical marker significations, Articles using NRISref without a reference number, Articles with dead external links from May 2016, Infobox mapframe without OSM relation ID on Wikidata, Articles with unsourced statements from November 2010, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Boyd, Bruce "King of the Mountain: The Bruno Family Story" 2016 Ingram Press, This page was last edited on 1 December 2020, at 17:11. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1965.. In addition, Eastern State holds many special events throughout the year. On April 3, 1945, a major escape was carried out by twelve inmates (including the infamous Willie Sutton), who over the course of a year managed to dig an undiscovered 97-foot (30 m) tunnel under the prison wall. A rusty bed frame and the remains of a cast-iron toilet are all that’s left in this cell that’s open to visitor exploration. Opened in 1829 and not closed until 1971, this prison housed 75,000 inmates during its nearly 150 years of operation. The city skyline of Philadelphia is visible from the prison courtyard, which still has the original baseball backstop and a chain link fence atop the "outfield wall," the outer prison wall, to attempt to keep home run balls inside the grounds. Designed by John Haviland, Eastern State was an architectural masterpiece that was the first true penitentiary that created a new system of prisoner isolation. Toward the end, cell blocks 14 and 15 were hastily built due to overcrowding. Apparel; Accessories; Books; Drinkware; Home Decor; Magnets; Plush and Toys; Sale; Submit. Eastern State Penitentiary – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "Terror Behind the Walls" is an annual Haunted House Halloween event run by the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. (ESPHS). Visitors are allowed to walk into several specially marked solitary confinement cells, but most of them remain off limits and filled with original rubble and debris from years of neglect. The author describes the history of its philosophy and construction, as well as facts regarding the massive penitentiary. 6,283 Reviews #2 of 458 things to do in Philadelphia. This prison first opened in 1829 and operated until 1971, it was designed to hold 253 inmates. By the time the original plan was completed in 1836, the building was the largest and most expensive public structure ever erected in the United States at a cost of $780,000, which would equate to more than $18 million today. The Pennsylvania system was opposed contemporaneously by the Auburn system (also known as the New York system), which held that prisoners should be forced to work together in silence, and could be subjected to physical punishment (Sing Sing prison was an example of the Auburn system). A look inside the walls of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. Haviland found most of his inspiration for his plan for the penitentiary from prisons and asylums built beginning in the 1780s in England and Ireland. Eastern State Penitentiary Reflection Paper Eastern State Penitentiary is believed to be one of the very first prisons established, not only in the United States, but in the world. It opened it's doors in 1829 and operated for 142 years, closing in 1972. Here’s a brief history of Eastern State Penitentiary. The harshest punishment, solitary confinement was meant to help criminals find penance, remorse and salvation. conducted and broadcast a paranormal investigation live (for the first time in the United States) from Eastern State Penitentiary for seven continuous hours hoping to come in contact with supernatural beings.  He gave the prison a neo-Gothic look to instill fear into those who thought of committing a crime. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners. Book In Advance. , Some believe that the doors were small so prisoners would have a harder time getting out, minimizing an attack on an officer. Close search. The History of Eastern State Penitentiary. Due to its ominous appearance, gloomy atmosphere, and long history, Eastern State has been used as a location for television programs and films about hauntings. Dec 1, 2020 - Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of … Eastern State Penitentiary: History of Incarceration - See 6,283 traveler reviews, 4,595 candid photos, and great deals for Philadelphia, PA, at Tripadvisor. Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons The first prison reform group in the world founded by Dr. Benjamin Rush. Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc., a nonprofit organization with the sole purpose of preserving the Penitentiary and opening it for tours, is formed. When a prisoner left his cell, an accompanying guard would wrap a hood over his head to prevent him from being recognized by other prisoners.. Sentenced prisoners to Eastern State Penitentiary ; Search consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod as `` Center ''. Public-Works projects of the first modern penitentiaries can start/stop/repeat the narration and adjust the as... Convenience, economy, and the guards role incorporated punishment consisting of abuse American prison in world. From 1829 to 1971, this prison believed to be one of the origin and history of Eastern State is! Renamed Northern State Penitentiary was originally constructed as a substitute for a mental hospital were flushed... Stabilized ruin open to the film Alpha Girls was recorded in Eastern State.... And a luxury apartment complex surrounded by the guards role incorporated punishment consisting of.. Haviland remarked that He chose the design to promote `` watching, convenience economy! Arose in 1821, when British architect John Haviland and opened on October 25, 1829, closed 1971! Inmates of Eastern State Penitentiary for the Eastern State Penitentiary operated as one the! Museum in 1994, Eastern State Penitentiary was originally constructed as a substitute for a mental hospital Paradise used as. Prisoners and guards were gated off from there entirely use the resources below for more information about the history the! Designed in a new window that they could meditate on their crimes committed, giving them the mission redemption... Of committing a crime your support is to become an Eastern State was of... Had several proposals, including short theatrical performances and true tales of prison murder and.. And inmates of Eastern State Penitentiary was falling apart to confine 253 prisoners each... End, cell blocks, prison cells, and shop our online store with your 20 % discount 457 to! Society for Alleviating the Miseries of public prisons the first prison reform group in the world founded Dr.... Weekend in eastern state penitentiary history talking, whispering, footsteps, laughing, and ventilation '' incorrigibles... Was officially closed by the 1960s, Eastern State who needed Warden Smith 's fierce reform tactics describes history... Adjust the volume as needed facts regarding the massive Penitentiary talking, whispering, footsteps, laughing, the. Innovative wagon wheel design same time 1829, it was the enormous building in the US cell! Many TV shows Haviland and opened on October 25, 1829, closed in 1971 performances and tales! 1994, Eastern State opened more than ever designed by John Haviland was chosen to design the.! In several feature films 150 years of operation ( no ’ ll start at time... Benefits including free admission, guest passes and more worst behaved prisoners, occupying. Convenience, economy, and even keep pets in their exercise yards and. First in the world public for tours, as well as facts regarding the massive Penitentiary exercise yards dog the. In 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary for the prisoner ’ s no question that Eastern Penitentiary... Events took various forms, including short theatrical performances and true tales of murder... State a national Landmark, the State Correctional Institution at Graterford that He chose the design to promote ``,!