Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is well known for several reasons. It was one of the most expensive prisons ever built in the world and utilized a radical philosophy. It housed some of America’s most notorious criminals, and it is said to be the most haunted prison in the country.

The idea of a new type of prison system came about in 1787, just four years after the American Revolution was over when important men were gathered at the home of Benjamin Franklin to discuss prison reform. At that time, the Walnut Street Jail was located directly behind Independence Hall, and the conditions there were terrible.

Men, women, and children who had committed all manner of crimes, from petty theft to murder, were jailed together on what amounted to little more than dirty pens, which were overcrowded, disease-ridden, cold, dangerous, and generally unsupervised. Abuse by both jailers and fellow inmates was common, and food, heat, clothing, or protection was only provided if the inmate could afford the price. Rape, robbery, and beatings were common practices, and it wasn’t unusual for prisoners to die from cold or starvation.

These abuses led to the formation of the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons, which met at Benjamin Franklin’s house to discuss improvements and alternatives. One member, a prominent Philadelphia physician and signer of the Declaration of Independence, named Benjamin Rush, called for “a house of repentance” rather than prisons, where the name “penitentiary” came from. Rush proclaimed that radical change was needed and believed that crime was a “moral disease.” Further, he suggested that a “house of repentance” would be a place where prisoners could meditate on their crimes, experience spiritual remorse, and undergo rehabilitation. The plan was built around the idea of solitary confinement that would allow criminals to meditate on their crimes and involved no corporal punishment. The other men agreed, and the method, which became known as the Pennsylvania System, would be utilized at Eastern State Penitentiary and other facilities throughout the world.

The men soon convinced the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and started their work at the Walnut Street Jail. In 1790, a small “Penitentiary House” with 16 solitary cells was built. The inmates were segregated by sex and crime, vocational workshops were instituted to occupy the prisoners’ time, and much of the abusive behavior was abolished. But the facility was still overcrowded, and as the city’s population increased, so did the crime.

Though it would be decades before a new prison was built, the ground was broken for the Eastern State Penitentiary in a cherry orchard outside the city in 1822. Designed by British-born architect John Haviland, the penitentiary would be unlike any seen before with seven single-level cell block wings radiating from a central surveillance hub, from which one guard could see down all of the cell blocks. Haviland was inspired by English prisons and asylums built beginning in the 1780s and gave it a neo-Gothic look. The building’s imposing facade was meant to be intimidating, although its battlements and windows were fake. Its interior was designed much like a church.

Though it was seven years before it would be completed, the penitentiary opened in 1829. With an initial capacity for 250 inmates, every prisoner would have his own 8 x 12-foot cell, which featured central heating, a flush toilet, running water, a shower/bath, a skylight, and a private exercise yard.

From the minute the inmates entered the facility, they were kept isolated. They were escorted into the prison with an eyeless hood placed over their heads. Afterward, the isolation continued so they could contemplate their crimes and read the Bible, which would lead to penitence and reformation.

To accomplish this goal, inmates could not mingle with other prisoners or continue relations with friends and family outside. When they were outside their cells, they were required to wear masks to hide their faces in their private exercise yards, which they were allowed to use one hour per day, with minimized interactions with the guards. During their time in their cells, they worked on prison projects such as shoemaking or weaving. Their only contact was with the warden, who was required to visit every inmate every day, and the overseers who were mandated to see each inmate three times a day. But even this communication was made through a small portal where meals and work materials were passed.

But just two years later, in 1831, it was already clear that the penitentiary would have to hold more criminals. Soon, second floors were added to all of the wings. This same year, the first female prisoner was confined in the penitentiary.

In 1832, the first inmate made his escape from the prison. For some reason, this inmate was not entirely confined to solitude and served as the warden’s waiter. He made his escape by lowering himself from the roof of the front building. He was later captured and returned but escaped in the same way in 1837.

By the 1870s, the prison needed more space, and four new cell blocks were added in 1877 between the existing wings. Before long, the individual exercise yards were eliminated, and inmates exercised together, but they were still required to wear masks and be silent.

Though the reform plan of the Pennsylvania System called for no corporal punishment, this was not the case. Guards and councilors were known to have designed various physical and psychological torture regimens for various infractions. One of these, called the “water bath,” subjected inmates to being doused with water outside during winter months and then hung on a wall until ice formed on their skin. Another torture called the “mad chair”, in which prisoners were bound tightly for days until their circulation was cut off. The “iron gag” involved tying an inmate’s hands behind the back, with a chain trapped to an iron collar in the mouth, which caused the tongue to tear and bleed.

Under Block #14 was dug an underground cell that was called the “Hole.” Here, inmates would stay locked, sometimes for weeks, with no light, no human contact, with only bread and water to eat. 

In January 1970, the prison closed, and the inmates were sent to the State Correctional Institution at Graterford. After a riot at a prison in Holmesburg, the prison again housed some of those inmates. In 1971 it was officially closed forever.

Over the course of its 142 years, the penitentiary held some 75,000 inmates, including Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone, and notorious bank robber Willie Sutton. More than 100 inmates escaped during this time, but all were recaptured, except for Leo Callahan.

While the prison was operating, two guards and several inmates were murdered within the walls. Other prisoners committed suicide, and hundreds of others died from disease and old age.

Named a National Historic Landmark in 1965, the prison sat abandoned after it was closed, during which time it was heavily vandalized, and trees began to grow in the buildings.

The City of Philadelphia purchased the property intending to redevelop it. Proposals included demolishing the building to use the site as a criminal justice center, a mall, or a luxury apartment complex. But in 1988, a task force successfully petitioned the city to stop pursuing development, and in 1994, the Pennsylvania Prison Society opened the prison for historic tours.

Today, the Eastern State Penitentiary, kept in a state of “preserved ruin,” continues to operate as a museum and historic site. It is open year-round for tours, and special events are held throughout the year.

In addition to its long history, the penitentiary is said to be the most haunted prison in the United States. For years, it has been investigated by paranormal groups and has been featured in several television shows. These investigators, staff, and visitors have reported dozens of paranormal activities and numerous sightings of ghostly entities.

One of the first stories told of ghostly activity was by famed Chicago gangster Al Capone, who was housed in the prison for eight months in 1929-1930. Though he had the nicest cell in the prison, which included a desk, a lamp, paintings, and a radio, he said he was haunted by the ghost of James Clark, who was one of the victims of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in Chicago. Allegedly, Capone screamed every night in fright, screaming at “Jimmy” to go away and leave him alone.

In the 1940s, both prisoners and guards began to have several unusual experiences and unexplained sightings. Many of these events involved spooky shadows and unexplained noises.

Today, many people have reported that Cellblock 12 is an area of high paranormal activity, where cackling and whispers are heard, and the apparition of a prisoner is seen. In Cellblock 6, shadowy figures are often seen sliding along the walls, and the sounds of whispers, screams, and laughter have been heard.

In Cellblock 4, many have seen ghostly anguished faces and hearing loud whispers. On one occasion, a locksmith working in this area who was removing an old lock from a cell door had a vivid experience. He described having felt as if he was overcome by a massive force, and was unable to move or speak, while distorted forms swirled around the cellblock, one of which appearing to beckon to him.

Many people have reported seeing the silhouette of a guard in one of the watchtowers.

On the third floor of one cell block, numerous visitors say they’ve heard the sound of cell doors suddenly opening and then slamming shut.

The catwalk is an area where many paranormal events have occurred. Here, a shadow figure was caught on a video, people have felt extreme temperature fluctuations, and one visitor captured a male voice saying “I’m lonely” on an EVP.

Visitors and staff report disembodied screams, cries of pain, sadistic laughter, and whispers throughout the prison. Others have reported the sounds of cell door handles jiggling, furniture being dragged across floors, large objects rolling on the roof, and ghostly footsteps.

Many have seen sudden orbs or streaks of light appearing, felt unseen people tapping them on the shoulder, get overwhelming sensations of being watched, and in general have feelings of dread.

Source: Legends of America

195 thoughts on “Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia

  1. Terrific Tuesday ? I hope so…

    Lovely weather we are having … transition, which I pray we will all move through gently.

    Tea time?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. By all means Pat! and you have such excellent manners! (I wish we could actually have tea together … sigh) Thank you for the smile … all the many smiles you always bring.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. From TechnoFag:

    “Igor Danchenko has been found not guilty of providing false statements to federal officials in the course of their “investigation” into the Steele Dossier. After count 1 was dismissed (the Charles Dolan count), these charges remained:

    Count 2. March 16, 2017: Danchenko told FBI agents he received a call in late July 2016 from a person he thought was Sergei Millian, when Danchenko knew he had never received a call from Millian.

    Count 3. May 18, 2017: Danchenko gave a false statement to FBI agents that he “was under the impression” that the late July 2016 call was from Millian.

    Count 4. October 24, 2017: Danchenko falsely stated to FBI agents that he believed he spoke to Millian on the phone on more than one occasion.

    Count 5. November 16, 2017: Danchenko lied that he “believed he has spoken to [Millian] on the telephone,” when Danchenko well knew he had never spoken to Millian.

    That’s the difficulty of proving a false statements case when the FBI and the Mueller Special Counsel were uninterested in pursuing the truth.

    As we’ve seen from the course of this trial, the most important takeaways from this trial have never been the alleged lies. Danchenko himself has long been known as a fabricator, with his deceptions revealed as soon as information on his involvement in the Steele Dossier, his background, and his FBI interviews was released. Cue observations from 2020 from ourselves and many others:”


    Liked by 1 person

        1. he did get Robby Mook under oath to admit hitlery was behind the dossier.
          i think he knew he couldn’t get a conviction, but he is getting the testimony out

          Liked by 1 person

  3. EXCERPT: “Story at a glance:

    – V-safe, a database managed and monitored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is a voluntary “after vaccination health checker” deployed to collect data on those who got the COVID-19 jab. For the past 15 months, the Informed Consent Action Network has fought a legal battle to get the CDC to release the V-safe data.

    – The V-safe data confirms suspicions that the COVID-19 jabs are dangerous in the extreme.
    Of the 10 million people enrolled in V-safe, 7.7% (770,000 people) required medical care after getting the shot and 25% (2.5 million people) missed work or school or suffered a serious side effect that affected their day-to-day life.

    – The V-safe data also shows a massive immune reaction signal. Four million people — 40% — reported joint pain. Two million, or 20%, reported “moderate” joint pain and 400,000, 4%, classified the pain as “severe.”

    – The formula the CDC uses to trigger a safety signal is seriously flawed, as the more dangerous a vaccine is, the less likely it is that a safety signal will be triggered. Still, even using that flawed formula, “death” meets all three safety signal criteria and should have been flagged, yet the CDC has taken no action. Congress has a duty to investigate the CDC’s failure to monitor safety.

    In an Oct. 4 Fox News interview, civil rights attorney Aaron Siri, legal counsel for the Informed Consent Action Network, shared shocking V-safe data obtained from the CDC after multiple legal demands.”


    Liked by 2 people

      1. CHD is asking that people call in and flood them with calls NOT to put it on the schedule. I am going to call and register my strong objection.

        EXCERPT: “Urgent Action Alert: Tell ACIP — We’re Watching You: Keep the COVID-19 Vaccine Off the Childhood Schedule

        ACIP could potentially make recommendations regarding our children that may have devastating impacts on children’s health.

        The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) on Oct. 19 and 20, will meet to discuss the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in pregnant women, infants and children.

        When drafting public comments, let committee members know that we are watching. Leverage data from published medical journals and our cited and referenced letter that RFK, Jr. sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in June, prior to when they granted EUAs allowing for infants and young children to receive Pfizer’s and Moderna’s COVID-19 shots.

        CHD.TV will provide live-stream coverage of the ACIP meeting along with live blogging from Dr. Meryl Nass. According to the CDC, members of the public can submit comments to ACIP online or can provide an oral public comment during the meeting. Written comments must be received by Oct. 20, 2022 and identified by Docket No. CDC-2022-0111 using the Federal eRulemaking Portal.

        It’s imperative that we take action to remind ACIP members of the health risks associated with these vaccines when given to children and that we are watching them.

        Take Action: Leave Public Comment (link in article)


        Liked by 1 person

  4. EXCERPT: “A team of 14 scientists at Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL) developed a new strain of COVID-19 that killed 80% of the mice infected with the virus in a laboratory setting, according to a preprint study published Oct. 14.

    Following the announcement, numerous news stories about the study’s results focused on the fatality rate observed in the laboratory mice used in the study. However, behind the headlines, some scientists and others raised concerns about the nature of the research and the fact that it was partially funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), headed by Dr. Anthony Fauci.

    The research was conducted using what some scientists called “gain-of-function” research, raising concerns that this type of research — which some theorize led to the creation and escape of the original Wuhan strain of COVID-19 — is still being done, despite concerns that it could lead to more lab escapes and more pandemics.

    Gain of function refers to the “manipulation of pathogens to make them more dangerous,” in the hope of “getting ahead of a future outbreak.” Commenting on the researchers’ announcement, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Children’s Health Defense chairman of the board and chief legal counsel, remarked on the potential danger of such research — and its federal funding:

    “What could be more insane than Anthony Fauci funding more of his GOF [gain of function] experiments to soup up coronavirus lethality in the middle of a pandemic caused by a juiced-up coronavirus that has killed millions?

    “All of horrified humanity is watching Lord Of The Flies play out at NIH [National Institutes of Health] and praying for the adults to appear.”

    Rachel Lapal Cavallario, Boston University’s associate vice president for public relations and social media, told the media the research conducted was not gain-of-function research and that, “In fact, this research made the virus [replication] less dangerous.”

    However, others disputed that claim. Sen. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.), a doctor, said the research involved “lethal gain of function virus research” that creates the “potential to kill more people than any singular nuclear weapon.”

    “Viruses have managed to escape even the most secure labs,” Marshall said, adding that this type of “research must stop immediately while the risks and benefits can be investigated.”


    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am adding a short daily prayer to the board. I would invite each of you, if you wish, to also add one or maybe two of your own liking. I do not want to stifle anyone but please limit yourself to one or two religious postings. here’s one I found that I liked.


  6. time for me to go sit in front of the fire for a little…chilly weather came on quickly!
    Good Night All!
    safe travels Filly!!


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