Eastern State Penitentiary | Philadelphia | WOW everyone, what a great tour if you happen to be in Philadelphia. A Penitentiary, who knew right, but I guess that if you can visit a cemetery or graveyard, why not a penitentiary. The highlights of this tour are Al Capone’s Cell, the Death Row and the visit to some of the Haunted cells – which have been featured many times into the Most Haunted Ones. ooooo spooky. !!!!. Now being serious, I recommend this tour that takes approximately 1 hours reliving the live conditions and stories of those days.
Located only 5 blocks away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art and 10 minutes from the City Hall, you will ask yourself who on earth planned to build a Penitentiary in the middle of Philadelphia city. Well you have to go back in time to understand that, in fact was the other way around… Philadelphia outgrew surrounding the penitentiary, being this one of the many reasons why nowadays remains closed.
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. 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 convicts.
Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone. (Picture above was Al Capone’s Cell). The story also tells that Easter State, opened in 1829, to become one of the most expensive American buildings of its day and soon the most famous prison in the world. The Penitentiary would not simply punish, but move the criminal toward spiritual reflection and change. The method was a Quaker-inspired system of isolation from other prisoners, with labor. The early system was strict. To prevent distraction, knowledge of the building, and even mild interaction with guards, inmates were hooded whenever they were outside their cells. But the proponents of the system believed strongly that the criminals, exposed, in silence, to thoughts of their behavior and the ugliness of their crimes, would become genuinely penitent. Thus the new word, penitentiary.
In the vaulted, skylit cell, the prisoner had only the light from heaven, the word of God (the Bible) and honest work (shoemaking, weaving, and the like) to lead to penitence. The penitentiary was conceived and built to be inescapable, but through it over 140 years of life, they counted over 135 escapes…
During the tour you will also get to see the Death Row, the Hole, most of the Cell Halls, the surveillance center and the renown haunted cell number 14. Take your time to come an visit the Eastern State Penitentiary you will really enjoy it. CM
(*) For more information or booking tours or groups Eastern State Penitentiary. (Daily 10 am to 5 pm – last entry: 4 pm)