Original Philly Photos : Eastern State Penitentiary

O.P.P. : Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary has an amazing history. You can read much more on their website, which I highly recommend if you can't just go visit the place itself. It was originally built in 1822, opened in 1829 (with only 2 finished cell blocks), but constantly added more cell blocks until the last (#14) was built in 1926. It ceased operations in 1971 and opened for daily tours in 1994. Dig it. All photos taken in June 2004.

This is the front of the building as seen from just inside the walls as a random family prepares to go on the audio tour. An entrance to a cell block is in the foreground and the central tower (as pictured below) is in the background.

The main tower near the entrance to the prison, tall shot below.

This is the "yard" in effect, or actually what is left of a baseball field used by inmates (photo taken from "left field"). The backstop behind homeplate is still intact in the back of the yard to the right of the picnic tables. The tower is seen in the background as well as a much more modern watchtower which was added late in the prison's history. Renovation work is being done on the far right.

This is one of the 4 corners of the prison's wall, which were all rounded to prevent escape attempts. A modern guard post was added on top of the corner long after the original wall was built.

This is the center rotunda of the original cell blocks, which were designed in such a way that a single guard could keep watch of any activity in each block. All the cell blocks radiated away from this center spot like spokes on a wheel. Genius. My co-worker Desiree is caught in the act. As noticeable in this picture, not all the blocks are available on the tour. In fact, most are not.

This is a memorial plaque for the inmates who served in World War I, listed by prisoner number.

Here are awesome shots of 3 different cell blocks (the second one being a two-story cell block). I neglected to record the cell block number of any of them. Spooky. If the cell doors look small, it's because they are ridiculously so.

The door to cell 664.

Here's an interior shot of a random cell. In infared. Very Blair-Witch.

This is the same cell using my flash in normal light. Still pretty scary.

Back to: