Strange Places
Comments 14

Eastern State Penitentiary 

I absolutely love exploring historical sites, and out of all of the ones I’ve visited, Eastern State Penitentiary is one of my favorites. It’s a massive prison on the edge of Philadelphia, well known for famous prisoners, brazen escape attempts, and ghost stories. It’s a fascinating place to visit, maintained as a “preserved ruin” that has been left largely in the same state as when it was closed and abandoned, with a few cells restored to their original state. 

Eastern State was the first penitentiary in the world, holding each prisoner in solitary confinement in order to inspire penitence, or strong regret. It opened in 1829, and featured an imposing exterior designed to inspire a foreboding fear. The inside of the prison was quite different, with running water, flushing toilets, and architecture that resembles a church. As time went on, the prison began to function as a more traditional prison, housing inmates together until it was closed in 1971

It was reopened to the public for historical tours in 1994  after being discovered by Steve Buscemi. The actor was so fascinated by the site after filming  the film Animal Factory there, he spearheaded the site’s preservation and recorded it’s audio tour.  It has also served as a filming location for several other movies, including Twelve Monkeys.


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  2. This is very reminiscent of British jails from the same period. The prison in Leeds, Armely Gaol is still in use though built in 1847, and clearly uses many of the same design features. It looks as if Millbank Penitentiary in London, which opened in 1816, was the first to build on the latest thinking of having prisoners kept in solitary cells, whilst doing ‘useful’; work in the day. Grim stuff, eh?


  3. Wonderful! I love your photos, they are very atmospheric and quite claustrophobic! I briefly looked at the separate System, back in uni, fascinating article. I can imagine being imprisoned there. Not pleasant at all.

    Liked by 1 person

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