Saturday, October 19, 2013

Eastern State Penitentiary

Last weekend I visited Eastern State Penitentiary with the hubby.  He got us the tickets as part of my anniversary gift.  Eastern State Penitentiary is located in Philadelphia and was built in 1829.  It was one of the first true penitentiaries which inspired penitence through solitary confinement, religion and work. The exterior has a gothic look while the halls were made to give the feel of a church.  The inmates cells were concrete walls with a metal door and a wooden door and it contained a single skylight to make them feel like God was always watching them.  Eastern State Penitentiary housed some well known criminals such as Al Capone and Willie Sutton.  Eventually the prison was closed in 1971 and while the government tried to figure out what to do with it the structures fell into decay and nature started to take over and the yards and cellblocks filled with trees and other plant life. Twenty three years later the prison was opened up for tours and is known as a living ruin because no real significant restoration is being done except for stabilizing the deterioration and keeping areas safe for tours.
It was a fun experience hearing the history of Eastern State Penitentiary and walking through its decayed halls and cells.  I definitely recommend it if you are ever in Philadelphia.
Below are some of the pictures I took while at the prison.
Entering Cellblock 1

Cells closed with both the metal door and the wooden doors that were to block out noise.

One of the few wooden doors that still has all of its numbers.

Inside one of the cells.

Gate into the infirmary.

Infirmary sign as seen through a broken window.

A closed off cellblock.

Another closed off cellblock.

View from the upper level of one of the cellblocks.

Row of cells on the upper level of a cellblock.

Inside another one of the cells.

View from the end of one of the cellblocks.

View of the upper level of one of the cellblocks.

View into a cell with a tree coming through the skylight.

Closed metal door of a cell.

The central guard tower.

Pep the dog sentenced to life in prison for "killing" the governor's wife's cat.

A set of doors I thought looked neat with the crumbling walls.

Cellblock 15 which was for Death Row inmates.

Another closed off cellblock.

One of the guard towers that had a view to the yard.

One of the gargoyle's that gets put up at the entrance of the prison during the Halloween season for the Terror Behind the Walls Haunted House event. Not sure if this is Frank or Carson.


  1. Oh my gosh! I'm so glad you finally got to go and that you got such amazing photographs! I love that wooden door with the numbers still on, it really brings "home" what it looked like before it was abandoned. The metal doors are sort of chilling, aren't they? And the bleak reminder that such a beautiful building was really a prison, when you see the death row windows so close and bleak. What an awesome tour, lady! I really love this!

    1. I think I want to go there again. I heard from an atcsforall member that the guided tour takes you to places that the self guided tour doesn't. I know that the wooden doors were to block out noise but I think if you were in there while it was closed you would feel trapped. I went into one of the cells and almost immediately had to walk out because my claustrophobia kicked in. I never would have survived if I was in there.