Hi friends!! Today we have Kathleen chatting all about her trip to Eastern State Penitentiary!! This is a place dear to my heart, it is in Pennsylvania and I cannot tell you how many ghost tours I have read and watched that went to ESP (see below for basically every single one that they have shown, and that I have seen!) So jealous of your trip, Kathleen! Take it away, girl!
Hi my name is Kathleen, I live in Delaware, and I love all things scary, especially with a historical twist. I first visited Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) in Philadelphia when I was a freshman in college. We took a “class trip” there as part of our First Year Experience class. We went during the day and got a full tour of the first ever US penitentiary. We were shown Al Capone’s cell, death row, a regular prisoner’s cell, and everything in between.
First I wanted to give you some background and history about this amazing place. Some very important people supported it; Ben Franklin was one. In 1787, a group of men got together and said we need get rid of the overcrowding in prisons. So they came up with the idea of a penitentiary, a place designed to create penitence. The state didn’t want to fund the building of ESP and instead built small penitentiaries. However, they were not adequate for the growing population and in 1822, construction on ESP finally started. The layout of the penitentiary was unique in that it had a central hub and then seven cellblocks that branched off of it (this grew as the years went on). There was a recreational yard, running water, flush toilet, central heating and a skylight for each cell. This was more than the White House had at the time. When it first opened, solitary was taken very seriously and inmates wore masks over their head when being transported so they couldn’t see anything but their cell. Things change drastically with the growing population and the number of cells increased from 250 to 980 with two to three men in a cell. By the 20th century, the idea of a penitentiary was left in the dust and some of the most violent offenders and those sentenced to execution were housed at ESP. The last cellblock to be built in 1959, was number 15 and that was considered death row. Continue reading