Strange Places: Eastern State Penitentiary 

While I’m patiently waiting for warmer weather, I’ve been reminiscing and looking back at past trips. One of my favorite sites visited while traveling is Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  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 toliets, and architecture that resembles a church. 

The prison closed in 1971, and was abandoned until 1994 when it opened to the public for historical tours as a preserved ruin. It has also served as a filming location for several movies, including Twelve Monkeys and Animal Factory. 

To plan your own visit, go to


8 thoughts on “Strange Places: Eastern State Penitentiary 

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  1. 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?


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