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Visiting the Pen * Eastern State Penitentiary *

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - this penitentiary is now referred to as a "stabilized ruin". When completed in 1829, it was considered state of the art with its wheel/spoke design copied throughout the world. The penitentiary was modified over time with the last prisoners leaving in 1971.

Its first prisoner arrived on 23 October 1829. "...Charles Williams, Prisoner Number One. Burglar. Light Black Skin. Five feet seven inches tall. Foot: eleven inches. Scar on nose. Scar on Thigh. Broad Mouth. Black eyes. Farmer by trade. Can read. Theft included one twenty-dollar watch, one three-dollar gold seal, one, a gold key. Sentenced to two years confinement with labor..."

The design was meant to induce penitence and reflection. Each prisoner had a cell with its own outside yard, walls 20 feet high or so and very thick, so there was no communication between prisoners. Food was delivered and a rough toilet was located in the corner of each cell. It was connected to rudimentary sewers and this meant the prisoner never had to go outside his cell. If prisoners did go out, a hood was put over their heads, so they couldn't see other prisoners or the guards.

From its beginning it was a tourist attraction of sorts. The Marquis de La Fayette visited the unfinished penitentiary in 1826 with Alexis de Tocqueville and Charles Dickens visiting at later times.

For an interesting Timeline, go to: http://www.easternstate.org/history/
For Notable Inmates*, go to: http://www.easternstate.org/history/notableinmates.php

*Toward the end of my photo gallery, you can see the interior furniture of Al Capone's Cell - not typical of other prisoners.
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