Philadelphia, PA

Eastern State Penitentiary has been called one of America's most haunted places.

Sara B

Eastern State Penitentiary has been called one of the world's most haunted locations, 2 miles outside of Philadelphia, Pa. Founded in 1829 and based on the Quaker tenets of silence and reflection enlightenment principles. The goal of Eastern State Penitentiary was Humane Rehabilitation.

The first prisoner arrived on October 25, 1829; Charles Williams was admitted for theft, a sentence of two years. The plan for each inmate was labor, complete solitude, silence, and discipline. They strictly enforced no contact with other inmates and placed a hood over each inmate's head whenever they left their cells so they could not see the other inmates. The only thing the inmates saw was the inside of their cells, the labor area, or the 1 hour they had in the exercise area.

The inside of the cell blocks was made to resemble a cathedral. It was intentional, giving the illusion of a church they hoped would inspire the inmates to see what they did wrong, seek forgiveness, and feel remorse.

The guards enforced this rule with force and torture during this complete solitude.

They used a device called the Iron Gag, where they would chain your hands behind your back and place a clamp in your mouth, around your tongue. If you moved your hands or spoke, the clamp would clamp down on your tongue, and some even died from this inhumane torture tactic.

The second form of torture was being doused in cold water and hung outside the wall to almost freeze.

In the mad chair, inmates sat in the chair and were bound so tightly that circulation was cut off, sometimes leaving perm injured or needing amputations.

These were not the worst punishment; the worst form of punishment ¨the hole¨. The hole was an underground area of the prison—a dungeon-like basement. Inhumane solitary confinement, with total darkness, no bed, no toilet, isolation, little air, and very little food, many went insane. Some inmates were kept down there for a month and suffered permanent eye damage from lack of light.

Cruel punishments, and inhumane conditions, drive many inmates to the breaking point, leading to insanity, suicide, and murder. The only form of suicide that worked was smashing your head against the wall.

The prison went too far and had to expand the prison, and the plan was failing. In 1926, it housed 1700 inmates in an area designed to house 250 inmates. Now 2 or 3 inmates were forced to share cells. Some are only big enough to hold one person. So it expanded, adding more wings.

Now that the inmates had interacted, new threats emerged, and many inmates were killed.

Late 19th Century, tuberculosis spread through the prison—part of cell block three turned into the medical wing. At least 600 inmates died of TB at this time. Every cell had traces of TB, according to investigators. Surgery was done on inmates, including removing ribs to help TB patients, the patients were awake, and no anesthesia was utilized.

However, the most gruesome crime inside the prison was on May 21, 1884; prison guard Michael Duran arrived at the cell of joseph Taylor to let him out for his daily exercise. When the door was open, Joseph had a wooden rod with him and attacked the guard. He hit the guard with it several times, crushing his skull and killing the guard.

The death Ledger has over 1k entries of those who died. The most common forms of death were TB, suicide, and murder. Many feel that those who died while in prison, their souls remain trapped for eternity. The prison has become a hot spot for paranormal investigators. Cellblock 3 is rumored to have a high-level spiritual activity.

Sightings and a sense of presence are common for those who visit. Some also feel dizziness in certain areas of the prison. Nausea, people have felt like they are going to throw up, unable to breathe, feelings of someone they know just died, cold spots, voices, and shadows reported.

By the 1960s, the prison needed costly repairs. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania closed the facility in 1970, 141 years after it admitted its first prisoner. It remained abandoned until the Pennsylvania Prison Society opened the penitentiary for guided tours in 1994.

There was only one successful escape in the 141 years and over 100 escape attempts; Leo Callahan never resurfaced.

During Halloween, they have one of the biggest haunted houses in the US, Terror Behind the Walls. Also, they are open for daily tours.

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I share legends, myths, and bizarre history, sometimes news. Living nomadically since 2018, currently in Colombia.

Pasadena, CA

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