Video: Tour of Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Eastern State Penitentiary is a historic penal fortress on the northern side of Philadelphia. The video provides a small glimpse of one of its cheery tours. [1:36]

Video Transcript

Tour of Eastern State Penitentiary (2009)

[Cell door slamming]

So you are standing in the world's first true penitentiary. It opened in 1829 but it took 14 years to construct this massive structure and it's really famous because of its design and also because of the system here.

It was established because of the system called solitary confinement, and it was devised so that the inmate or criminal would come in, and they would spend the majority of their sentence in their own individual cells, and through reading the Bible and meditating and working it was hoped that they would actually repent or experience penitence, which is actually where the term penitentiary came from.

When visitors would come into Eastern State Penitentiary when it first opened for tours they would have had to have worn hard hats and sign waivers to get on site. And today it's stabilized enough so roofs have been redone and a lot of the water damage has been stopped, but there's a lot of work to be done still.

Cellblock 12 - we're actually currently on the third floor of cell block 12. It's a three-story cell block, which is a little bit different than the other cell blocks here, This is not a public cell block, so this is not publicly accessible. It's only used for Eastern State's haunted house and also for paranormal investigations.

It was documented even by a very famous visitor, Charles Dickens, the inmates were going insane in their selves, however there are no statistics about the rates of insanity

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