Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary was the world’s first penitentiary prison which opened over 190 years ago. The prison tried to rehabilitate its population through solitary confinement and labor. With discipline, inmates would be reformed due to their “regret”.
The penitentiary was the first prison with a unique architectural structure, heating and running water! Its sheer size and shape allowed for a bigger prison population with multiple sections.
From 1829 until 1971, this prison transformed the way prison systems are function and manage inmates in the USA.
You can read more on the penitentiary, its history, and famous inmates like Al Capone, I’ll leave a link here.
Unlike the other abandoned places I’ve been to where it’s trespassing if you venture onto the property, you can buy tickets to get inside the prison.
There are two tours, day and night tours. My friend and I picked the night tour to get more of a creepy vibe from the prison. When it got dark, you kind of got the chills walking through the penitentiary. I recommend the night tour but you have the option of doing it in the day as well.
The tour is basically a walking audio tour of the prison. Due to COVID, there’s sanitizer in the prison, everything is sanitized before you got it, and you have to socially distance from others.
Once you get to a section of the prison, there are numbers on the walls or doors which you key into your audio guide. From there, it tells you the information that pertained to that section of the penitentiary. It’s very informative and cool to learn more about the prison, its history, and the daily life for inmates.
It’s amazing to learn and understand what this place has been through. It has gone through a lot of changes in the system and prisoners; for better and for worse. This tour provided ample information of the physical aspects of the prison but the social context of crime as a whole.
While on the tour, you could go inside the cells and see how the decades have treated them. Some cells are restored to show how it used to be. For the most part, the cells and surrounding structure illustrates decades of abandonment, neglect, and ruin. Certain parts of the prison are closed off to the public because of the state of disrepair.
Regardless, the prison is a brilliant display of new founding ideas and efforts in the criminal justice system from the 19th century.