Eastern State Penitentiary
Take a 360-degree panoramic look around the now abandoned and historic Eastern State Penitentiary that is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Images by Jeremy Powlus
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About the abandoned location
The Eastern State Penitentiary, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is a former prison that is now a museum and historical site. It was built in 1829 and operated until 1971, making it one of the oldest and most famous prisons in the United States.
The Penitentiary was designed to be a “model prison,” and it was the first prison to use the concept of solitary confinement. The idea behind solitary confinement was that prisoners would have time to reflect on their crimes and repent, leading to rehabilitation and ultimately, a reduction in recidivism. Each prisoner was kept in a separate cell and was only allowed out for exercise and certain activities, such as attending chapel.
During its 142 years of operation, the Eastern State Penitentiary housed many famous prisoners, including Al Capone and Willie Sutton. Capone, a notorious gangster, was sentenced to one year in prison for carrying a concealed weapon. Sutton, a bank robber, was sentenced to life in prison and spent over 35 years at the Eastern State Penitentiary.
Despite its innovative design, the Eastern State Penitentiary was eventually abandoned due to overcrowding and the belief that solitary confinement was inhumane. The prison was overcrowded for much of its history, with as many as 1,700 prisoners being held in a facility designed for just over 500. In addition, the prison had poor living conditions, with inmates living in cells that were often damp and poorly ventilated.
In 1971, the Eastern State Penitentiary was finally closed and the prisoners were transferred to other facilities. The prison sat empty for several years before being turned into a museum in the 1990s. Today, visitors can tour the prison and learn about its history, including the lives of its famous prisoners.
The Eastern State Penitentiary is a testament to the evolution of the criminal justice system in the United States. While it was once seen as a model for rehabilitation, it is now viewed as a symbol of the harsh and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Despite its troubled history, the Eastern State Penitentiary has become a popular tourist destination and a reminder of the importance of treating prisoners with dignity and respect.