Eastern State Penitentiary (Part One)

For the next two and a half days I will be posting images I had taken at the Eastern State Penitentiary, on a recent trip to Philadelphia. There will be five posts total including this one with multiple photos. Eastern State was the worlds first true penitentiary and it was designed to inspire true regret for its inmates. Eastern State was operational from 1829 to 1971 and has held some of Americas most notorious criminals including “Slick Willie” Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone. Currently the prison is being restored a little at a time and is run by donations. If anyone is in the Philadelphia area or plans to visit this area this prison should be one of top the places on your list to visit. It is also the prison that was featured in the television show “Ghost Hunters” because it is said to be haunted.

Here is a link for a more complete history –


Behind these high stone walls is a place that I would never want to have to serve time.

As you pass through the iron gate you are immediately faced with a feeling of regret and being well contained.


Faced with the high stone walls and guard towers there is very little chance of escape. From here on you will be watched constantly.


As we enter into cell block 1 you will notice the lack of traditional bars. These are what they called escape proof cells.


Each inmate had is own cell and this was designed so that they would have loads of time to reflect on whatever crime or bad deed they had committed (sort of like solitary confinement only with daylight).


The above photo reflects a completely restored cell as it would be back in the days when this prison was operational.

In this afternoons post I will show some of the unrestored sections of this facility in part two.


12 thoughts on “Eastern State Penitentiary (Part One)

  1. That was quite the tour through this 5 part series. I’ve been through a number of prison tours including Alcatraz and a former prison for war criminals in Holland. They are strangely eerie places and I have to admit to a certain morbid fascination with them.

    Your photos of the deterioration of this facility are striking.


    • Thank you very much Joanne 🙂 I also have a fascination with places like this and my wife is also fascinated with ghosts and spirits and this prison was featured on the TV show Ghost Hunters so we had to visit. We spent about four hours there and if we return we will spend another four, LOL. I’m glad you enjoyed the images.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favorite places to photograph Joe! You captured the mood of solitude in the images above. I can’t wait to see what else you saw!
    I have several posts on this very subject on my blog, several images accompanied by poems written about the place/inmates.


    • Thank you Robyn 🙂 My wife and I really enjoyed it and I will have also to check out those posts on your blog. Maybe next time we will try to visit the Frank Lloyd Write home “Falling Water”. That should be pretty close to where you are correct ? Thank you again and I’m on my way to your blog right now 🙂


    • Each of the cells had barrel vaulted ceilings and they were fairly high on the single level cellblocks. On the dual level cellblocks I think they are regular ceilings. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. Have a great day 🙂


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