Eastern State Penitentiary |World’s first prison with ghostly activities

On October 25th, 1829, the eastern state penitentiary opened its door as a part of the reformatory Pennsylvania system.

Envision concocted a civilized human prison, where labor, complete solitude, and regulation would make prisoners penitent. Therefore, the term ‘penitentiary.’

The prisoners were allowed outside for an hour every day.

And when they used to leave their cells, they covered their heads with hoods to stop them from communicating.

eastern state penitentiary

Their cells became their home, worked there, ate there and weren’t allowed contact with the outside world.

Not even in letters, visits from family, or newspapers.

Eastern State Penitentiary Facts

Eastern State Penitentiary death Ledger
Eastern State Penitentiary death Ledger

When the prison finished construction in 1829, it was the most enormous building in the US.

It is recognized to be one of the most haunted places in the whole wide world.

The prison was constructed to confine 253 prisoners, each with an isolated confinement cell.

The cruelest punishment, isolated punishment meant to assist criminals in obtaining atonement, repentance, and redemption. It led several prisoners to go crazy.

Before the opening of the Eastern State penitentiary prisoners were nothing more than some unwanted pens; men, women, and children were kept beside malevolent criminals and vicious killers.

The Philadelphia Society for Helping People in Prison Difficulties, run by founding father Benjamin Franklin, worked to transmute these unexploited prisons into amenities that promoted development.

Aliexpress WWEastern-State-Penitentiary-photos

Their notions became real in the year 1822, when the construction of the penitentiary started. It was an exclusive mission to bring the revolutionary design into reality.

It showcased domed ceilings and skylights to allow in God’s light, and every cell was furnished with a toilet, heat, running water, and a Bible.

After the penitentiary finished its construction, more than 300 penitentiaries worldwide constructed pens with the same design, practices, and system.

Segregation was emphasized on convicts even when they left their prison cells for work.

Each prisoner sported heavy masks that forbade them from communicating with each other.


The seclusion and solitude were afflicting and became harder for the inmates to handle. Several of them even committed suicide at the eastern state penitentiary.

Eastern State Penitentiary architecture

The Eastern State Penitentiary, or Cherry Hill, was built in 1829 in Francisville. It was a very expensive and large public building at that time. An architect named John Haviland designed it after getting ideas from prisons and asylums built in England and Ireland in the 1780s. Haviland used a scary-looking neo-Gothic style to scare people who might think of committing crimes. The idea for this prison came from a meeting in 1787 at Benjamin Franklin’s house.


Eastern State Penitentiary Ghost

It is most popular prisoner was indeed Chicago gangster Al Capone. His cell was the best at the eastern state penitentiary.

He served eight months of jail time for transporting a deadly, concealed and lethal weapon.

eastern state penitentiary pictures

His cell’s furniture included a desk, lamp, a cabinet radio, and paintings. However, throughout his confinement, he reported being haunted by the ghost of James Clark.

He was amongst the fatalities of the St. Valentine’s Day destruction in Chicago. The genocide resulted from gang enmity, and AL Capone was the leader of one of the gangs.

The pen’s most famous figure was Warden Hervert, hardboiled Smith, who had power over the prison with an iron fist thru the 1920s and 1930s.

Throughout his reign, the United States only punished prisoners in eastern state penitentiaries, which required Smith’s extreme reform methods.

By then, the state had called off strict solitary imprisonment, and 2-3 inmates shared the prisons. 

However, with the loss of one practice of punishment came a horde of others: the water bath, when prisoners were dipped in a tub of cold water and hung from a wall for the whole night- this was popular, especially during the winter seasons.


The second was the mad chair- the prisoners were fastened tightly to a chair, constraining any movement for days and times of persuaded starvation.

Eastern State Penitentiary Haunted House

Since many reported encountering paranormal activity in the eastern state, it is considered one of the most haunted areas in the world.

eastern state penitentiary timining

Several have reported hearing a crying voice that is in vain inside the pens. Many have reportedly seen orbs and flashes appearing, then abruptly vanishing.

Some said they had heard the unusual sounds of someone walking past the prison’s hall.

Visitors have, a lot of times, heard someone calling their names and then disappearing. 

Others distinctly remember sensing someone patting them on the shoulder. However, when they turned around, they saw no one behind them. Numerous people have allegedly heard loud, appalling laughter.

Several people have listened to the sound of opening and then shutting the door abruptly, in the most vehement manner, in one of the cell blocks on the third floor.


They have even heard the cell door handles rattling. The staff members there have reportedly quit the job without prior notice. They stated that they feared some unknown evil force.

Ghost Hunters Eastern State Penitentiary

Countless people have reported the hearing sound of furniture being pulled across the floors and stones or other massive objects tossing on the rooftop.

People have also listened to babies screaming inside cell block 7.

In addition to that, some have complained about getting sick while visiting the prison.

view of the corridor

Several visitors asserted to have encountered something like a bright blob that appears and then disappears quickly.

Former locksmith of East State ‘Gary Johnson’ who gave named the pens- a giant haunted house.

He stated that he felt he was being watched intensely once he was allocated to get rid of a lock in Cell Block 4.

He walked down to confirm the situation, however, he felt the same sensation once again.

He saw a black figure jump across the block as he looked down the block. Gary said that he suddenly saw the faces of the tormented souls appear on prison walls.

View of the place where the prisoners lived.

Eastern State Penitentiary Tickets

  • Adults- $14
  • Senior adults (+62) – $12
  • Students (ID needed) -$10
  • Children- $10

Eastern State Penitentiary Halloween

If Halloween is your favorite, you would love visiting the eastern state’s ‘terror behind the walls.

It is a six weeks occasion (from September- November) that works like a charity and raises enough for the former prison maintenance.

Ghost Hunters Eastern State Penitentiary Episode

The paranormal investigators from the ghost hunter series investigated the penitentiary.

Throughout the investigation, they discovered some videos that were inexplicable. It made them stay for two days straight to acquire some more proof.

Top 5 Hotels Near Eastern State Penitentiary

  • Warwick Hotel Rittenhouse square
  • Club Quarters Hotel Philadelphia
  • Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square
  • Philadelphia Marriott Downtown
  • The Windsor Suites
View of the place where the prisoners lived


When was the Eastern State Penitentiary built?

It was created in 1829 to change the behavior of people who were found guilty of crimes. They were kept away from society and made to work. This was part of a plan to reform them. The penitentiary cost a lot of money to build, and many others were built just like it all over the United States.

How many inmates died at Eastern State Penitentiary?

It is estimated that several inmates died during their time at Eastern State Penitentiary.

For Eastern State Penitentiary inmate records?

Click here to research resources

How many prisoners were in Eastern State Penitentiary?

Eastern State Penitentiary’s vaulted and sky-lit cells housed almost 85,000 people during its history. Many famous criminals, like bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone, were among those who stayed there.

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