Eastern State Penitentiary

On December 29 I visited Eastern State Penitentiary with my husband for our 13th wedding anniversary. It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a long time and we thought this seemed as good a time as any to go. I took advantage of their equipment fee {$10 good for a year} and brought along the tripod. It was a cold day, but not unbearable. See, there isn’t heat or air conditioning so what you experience outside the stone walls is what you get inside the stone walls.

I have to say the place is incredible! It is also huge. For reference, Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone {Eastern State Penitentiary}. We were there five hours and still did not see everything. A return trip is definitely in the cards!

So, to let you feel like you’ve been there yourself or to give you a feel for what to expect if you go, here are some of my favorite images from that day.

OutsideOutside of Eastern State Penitentiary. A bit intimidating.

Outside Guard TowerOne of the corner outside guard towers from the inside.

Hallway The fact that the cabinets are still on the walls is incredible. And the patina on them now is beautiful.

Central guard tower You can see the central guard tower almost everywhere…even through doorways in hallways.

Corridor entrance gatesEntrance to corridor two. I admired the use of the Pennsylvania keystone symbol over the door.

Cross in the skylightThe detail in the skylight was unexpected.

Door outside the chaplain area.I am a sucker for doors and these doors are beautiful. Maybe I just have a thing for wooden double doors.

Plants growing through a windowThe greenery growing on the outside of this window has grown tall.

Barber shop chairA barber shop chair in a cell block.

Metal bed frame in cell A lone metal bed frame in a prisoner cell.

Central guard tower from the outsideA view of the central guard tower. The day was cold, but the sky was the perfect backdrop.

Murals in the Chaplain's areaThese murals were painted by a prisoner in the Chaplain’s rooms. Gorgeous!

Entrance to hospital wingMany photographers have taken this image. To me it’s iconic to ESP. I had to have one as well.

Surgery roomThe surgical room. The hanging light was installed much later. Early surgeries were done under the skylight.

Central guard tower More of that beautiful blue sky behind the central guard tower.

Prisoner cellA prisoner’s cell illuminated by late afternoon sunlight.

Have you been to Eastern State Penitentiary? I thoroughtly enjoyed the visit and look forward to going back!

All photographs taken are from Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, PA.


One comment on “Eastern State Penitentiary

  1. eduardolibby says:

    Cool place and cool photos!
    I once did a photo exhibit at a Jail turned into a museum. Your photos remind me of how it used to be before renovation.

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