Everything To Know About Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary

Everything To Know About Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary

Everybody knows the concept of prisons nowadays, where criminals and wrong-doers are kept under governmental regulations as a form of punishment. Plenty of prisons are there in every state, but the mention of Eastern State Penitentiary is sure to send chills down the spine. From the intriguing idea behind its establishment to the label of America’s most haunted prison, there is so much to know about this penitentiary. All historic stories make this place a prime tourist spot presently. Let’s know more about this site!


Penitentiary is a term used for a prison where convicts are kept for their grave acts of crime. ESP or Eastern State Penitentiary is one of the most talked about prisons in the world, especially in America. John Haviland, the prestigious architect, and pride of Philadelphia had designed this penitentiary. The architecture and idea behind constructing Eastern State are considered to be the first proper incarceration in the world. However, ESP remained open as a prison only from 1829 to 1971; it is now a tourist attraction for all and a haunted site for some.


The idea of the Eastern State Penitentiary came into the scene as a need for promoting rehabilitation and discarding punishment for the criminals. The primary intent was to replace the existing system where the accused were convicted up to the trial period only and were later subjected to public punishment after being declared guilty. Activists condemned this brutal system of public punishment and opposed it for being inhumane. Reformers asked for a humane approach that could give the criminals a chance to repent.

Several ideologies were put to work, and Walnut Street Jail was constructed to incarcerate convicts. But, it was felt necessary to keep women and young felons separate from the serious lawbreakers. Eventually, it led to the outset of a separate prison for offenders of serious crimes, known as the Eastern State Penitentiary. The belief was that such separate confinement will prove to be a reformative and rehabilitative step for serious offenders.

Notable Prisoners

Eastern State Penitentiary is also known for keeping some of the infamous culprits for their heinous acts against others. Morris “The Rabbi” Bolber, Leo Callahan, and “Babe” Andreol are a few to name. The very notorious bank robber in the history of America also served imprisonment here, namely “Slick Willie”. William Francis “Slick Willie” Sutton was guilty of fifty bank robberies and three prison escape attempts. Freda Frost is another prisoner known to have spent twenty years in the penitentiary for murdering her husband. She is reportedly the last female captive in Eastern State Penitentiary.

Tourist Attraction

Eastern State Penitentiary is now a landmark that attracts tourists from all over the world. Several annual events in America take place here. Many visitors and locals believe this historical site to be haunted. If you have queries about current laws, prisoner details, or other legal help, you can reach our expert lawyers at Philadelphia Injury Lawyers, P.C. for a free consultation.

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