MINI PENNY: Eastern State Penitentiary

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Eastern State Penitentiary

This past weekend I ventured up to check out Philadelphia's own Eastern State Penitentiary. A friend and I were on the topic of abandoned buildings and he mentioned this location. It is similar to a previous visit I did to the Ohio State Reformatory — while the buildings are old and, for a lack of better terms, ruins, preservation groups have come in to save the history of the prison by offering tours. See all the photos after the jump.

ESP did, in many ways, remind me of Ohio State Reformatory. The tour was a bit more in depth and we were given time to roam the grounds. Another interesting piece is that they periodically have artists do installations in some of the cells. It was pretty rad.

Three parts I thought were extra-interesting: ESP was the world's first true penitentiary and was once the most expensive prison in the world. Al Capone spent his first prison sentence here — only eight months and was permitted fancy furnishings (shown above). And finally, William Frances Sutton briefly escaped the prison after digging a hole that extended below the prison walls nearly 100 feet. Shawshank, anyone?

See more photos below.

A view from inside a cell.

A view into a cell. Prisoners had a small private courtyard-like area where they were permitted to be outside for a short time each day. They were in solitary.

A cell door. When the prison was first built, these didn't exist. There was only a hole for meals to be passed through. Later, these doors were added to the cell block.

If you happen to find yourself in Philadelphia, I definitely recommend this spot. It's one of the more unique history lessons I've found here so far and is totally worth checking out!

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