The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has long been known as one of the most haunted sites in America.
It was opened in 1829 as the “world’s first real ‘penitentiary’– a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners,” according to the prison’s website.
And for over one hundred and forty years, the institution became renowned for dismal isolation, agonizing torture, disease, and murder.
Notable inmates included “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone, which– along with the prison’s frightening history– earned the institution a reputation of being severely haunted.
The inside of the penitentiary is now cold and desolate. But, the walls, floors, remaining steel beds, and general aura of the prison tell the story of years past.
Back in the day, inmates would be forced to sit in their cells for twenty-three hours every single day– leading many to insanity.
Common criminal punishments also included ice baths– where inmates would be dunked into freezing tubs before being hung on the wall– and something known as the “mad chair.”
Guards would bound inmates to the chair so tightly that it would cut off circulation.
The practice of isolating prisoners stemmed from the idea that solitude might encourage positive inward reflection.