Saturday, April 5, 2014

Hauntings: Eastern State Penitentiary


Eastern State Penitentiary (Pennsylvania)

The Eastern State Penitentiary is a former prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania built by the Quakers in 1829.  It broke with traditional prisons of the time because it was very expensive to construct, had an innovative wagon wheel design, and emphasized keeping prisoners isolated so they could “pay penance" for their sins -- which gave birth to the word "penitentiary." 

The facility was originally designed to hold 250 inmates in solitary confinement.  At the height of its use, however, the prison population rose as high as 1,700 prisoners.


The prison's most famous inmate was Al Capone, jailed on illegal weapons possession in 1929.  During his stay, it's said that Capone was tormented by the ghost of James Clark, one of the men Capone had murdered in the infamous St. Valentine's Day massacre.

Other reported hauntings include:
~  A shadow-like figure that scoots quickly away when approached.
~  A figure that stands in the guard tower.
~  In Cell Block 6, shadowy forms have been seen sliding down the walls.
~  Mysterious, ghostly faces are reported to appear in Cell Block 4.
~  In Cell Block 12, spectral figures have been seen, slinking from cell to cell as if trying to not be detected, and laughter, whispers, and evil cackling have been heard.
~  Although no executions were ever carried out at Eastern State Penitentiary, prisoners spent time on “death row” until they were transferred to another prison to be executed.  Over the years, shadow figures have been seen in this area and people have heard crying and weeping.






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51 comments:

betty said...

I guess there's some poetic justice here if Al Capone was haunted by someone he killed.

betty

Lynda Dietz said...

I thought the same as Betty...there is satisfaction there for Mr. Capone.

Kate Larkindale said...

I agree. He deserved to be haunted by someone he killed.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Hope the ghost scared the beegeebees out of him.

Andrew Leon said...

Ooh... I have a prison coming up that housed Capone!

Carrie-Anne Foster said...

How cool!!!

Heather Holden said...

So eerie! Sounds like Capone got a good dish of karma there...

JeffO said...

I imagine there are lots of reasons for a prison to be haunted.

Jean said...

Lexa! This is all about everything which I spent my life being fascinated by! Thank you so much for a great entry. By the way, I spent ages trying to teach myself Heiroglyphics as a kid and LIVED in the Egyptian Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY! jean following you now!!!

see jean's "fictionary" to find out what an eXboxer is!!! see my blog!
http://prettykittydogmoonjewelry.blogspot.com/

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Creepy! If any place would be haunted, I'd guess it would be a prison like this one.

Ms Misantropia said...

I have such mixed feelings about old prisons. On the one hand they kept some nasty rapists and murderers away from the population, on the other hand they also held (and abused) lots of poor, addicts and under-privileged people.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I wonder of Capone came back to haunt it?

Natalie Zaman said...

What a cool blog--and I LOVE your theme! I've visited Eastern State Pen--it can be a creepy place--especially if you get to sections and there's no one around...

Sean @ His And Her Hobbies said...

I never thought of a prison being haunted but i am sure there are plenty of troubled souls that still remain. I am loving this series and looking forward to seeing what other locations you will share with us.

Sean at His and Her Hobbies

Kim Van Sickler said...

Penance...penitentiary. Seems so obvious now. I haven't been to ESP, but I found Alcatraz to be electrifyingly eerie. However the place where I've felt the most shivers was aboard the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor. The air was thick with ghosts.

ClareMDavidson said...

Hauntings is a great topic for the A to Z Challenge. I never knew that penitentiary came from penance. All those reported hauntings sent a shiver down my spine. It must have been horrible to be an inmate there.

L.G. Smith said...

Creepy place. Reminds me of the old Newgate prison in London and all the ghosts that haunted that place, which of course I "stole" and put in my novel. ;)

J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Lexa,
That place has a whole lotta haunting going on.

tulika singh said...

A prison can certainly be expected to have it's share of ghosts... The building looks like it has a lot of history.

DMS said...

Wow! I have visited other famous prisons and taken pictures looking for spirits (some picture look like they have them). I hadn't heard of this one- but it does look like it is full of old spirits! Thanks for sharing.
-Jess

flip McFliperson said...

I guess that's why you shouldn't go around killing people. So they don't come back and haunt you. And that's why I almost never do it.

flip at HILL BLOCKS VIEW

Winter Moon said...

Oh Lexa, this is an equally creepy one!

I can imagine the fear I'd feel walking down that corridor, accompanied by the sound of my own footsteps, peeking into each doorway, expecting to see some ghostly shadow or slight movement from the corner of my eye *shivers*

I can't wait for your next one!

Bish Denham said...

I saw a documentary about this place. One of the reasons they closed it was because prisoners being kept isolation went mad instead of becoming penitent.

Crystal Collier said...

Ooh! Chilling. I love it! Bish's addition there makes it even better. I'd love to see a story about a kid who is dared to sneak into the penitentiary and all the crazy that goes along with it. =)

Stephen Hayes said...

Designed for 250 inmates and it held 1700? Must have been crowded in there.

Ava Quinn said...

I've lived in PA all my life and never visited here. I find it fascinating that it was built by Quakers.

Alyssa said...

So creepy! The inside of the building looks extra creepy as well!

cleemckenzie said...

Now that's a perfect place for hauntings! I can feel the ghosts just looking at the pictures.

messymimi said...

Remind me to stay on the right side of the law....

Suzanne McClendon said...

I love stories like this. History has always been one of my favorite topics and spooky history is very exciting.

I grew up hearing stories like Cry Baby Bridge and evidently most every state has a Cry Baby Bridge story. It was legendary.

Thank you for sharing such an interesting "pen" story. Have a great week!

Munir said...

Oh those poor inmates. A prison is bad enough.and haunted at that.

Kate OMara said...

I hadn't heard Capone's haunting story. Thanks

Inge H. Borg said...

We just love a good ghost story - but this one is a haunting one, indeed.

Lara Lacombe said...

Is there anything creepier than an abandoned prison?

Kim Graff said...

This one is really cool. I would love to tour this place, it looks creepy.

Julie Flanders said...

I agree with Lara, it's hard to imagine anywhere creepier than this.
Never knew that's where the word penitentiary came from. Interesting!

Mary said...

Thanks for visiting and commenting so that I could find your blog! VERY interesting!!!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Spooky. I wouldn't want to visit there on a moonless night.

robertlampros.com said...

That's sad about the isolation and how the word "penitentiary" got its name. Christianity is about forgiveness and healing, not punishment. I just read a quote earlier tonight that said, "You might be surprised who you see in Heaven when you arrive---God's been known to have a soft spot for sinners.". That's true, too. Jesus came to set the captives free.

Wendy LaPlaca said...

Wow looks and sounds like a spooky place. I lived in PA and never heard of this place. We never explore the cool stuff in our own back yard it seems :)

Spacerguy said...

Built like a fortress, I doubt anyone has ever escaped.

Rhonda Albom said...

That is so over crowded. Nearly 7 people in each of those spaces made for one. No wonder it's haunted.

Milo James Fowler said...

I never knew that's where penitentiary came from. And holy cow, that place was crowded.

S. L. Hennessy said...

My cousin went there on Halloween last year. I thought she was NUTS! Way too scary.

ambrozya said...

I love haunted places. I definitely will visit this place on my trip to Pennsylvania later this year. I didn't know Capone was a prisonner there, it kinds of add a little twist to the history. Very nice!
Thank you vor visiting my blog! With great respect! A.

e.a.s. demers said...

Awesome post! And awesome theme---- I would love to visit some of these haunted places someday :-)

Joyce Lansky said...

Being haunted by the dude one killed. That's karma at its best!

http://joycelansky.blogspot.com

Jennifer C. said...

OMG! That's scary stuff. I'm a big chicken. I cannot watch anything scary. Just the thought of driving pass that location would creep me out.

Al Diaz said...

It really looks like a nasty nasty place.

Zoe Byrd said...

so did people stay in those cells with all that stuff going down? Hows that for penance? ARGH!

Millie Burns said...

I'm heading to Alcatraz next week, another place Al Capone spent some time at...

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