A Brief History: Eastern State Penitentiary is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia, just a few blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Considered the world’s first true penitentiary, it was opened on October 25th, 1829. It revolutionized the prison system at the time by instituting solitary confinement as a means of rehabilitation. It became the model that was used by over 300 other prisons worldwide. It housed such infamous criminals as bank robber Willie Sutton, alleged perpetrator of the Kelayres massacre Big Joe Bruno, and Al Capone. The prison was closed in 1971 and was abandoned until 1994 when it was reopened to the public for historic tours. Today, it operates as a museum and historic site. It also opens as a haunted attraction in October just in time for Halloween. However, all of the scares do not seem to be staged.
Haunted History: While solitary confinement may have served as a suitable form of punishment at the time, it can also do strange things to a person. This led to a history of suicide, insanity, disease, murder, and torture at the prison. This history of violence may also explain some of the paranormal activity that has been experienced over the years. Footsteps, wailing, and whispering echo throughout the hallways hot spots and cold spots felt, and feelings of being watched. There have been reports of voices and cackling throughout Cell Block 12. Cell Block 4 is known for ghostly faces appearing. A silhouette of a guard has been seen in one of the towers. With all of these experiences, it’s easy to see why Eastern State is known as one of the most haunted locations in America.