Eastern State Penitentiary

Walk with me if you dare, through the ghost halls of the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Notoriously known as ESP, this fourteen-acre, city wide block sized prison was built in 1829.

Built like a castle fortress, at least sunny skies are present to guide us on this visit.



ESP was considered to be the most expensive prison designed and was used as a model for nearly 300 prisons worldwide. This prison was built as a true Penitentiary – to have the inmates in isolation to become penitent for their crimes. With vaulted ceilings and skylights in the cells, and small doorways where the penitent man had to bow down to enter.

In 1787, in the home of Benjamin Franklin a group of men gathered to discuss prison conditions and the desire to create a prison that would ‘create genuine regret and penitence in a prisoner’s heart.’ (source:

The prison is designed like a cartwheel. With a center hub and spokes leading out. Each spoke is a cell block with the earlier ones being one story, and the later ones built had two stories. The hallways are left to natural ruin. This is a preserved ruin and a historical landmark. To walk down the halls and hear the whispers of past inmates and the suffering that they endured.

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ESP was even home to some notorious criminals, to say the least of – Al Capone. Mr. Capone was able to live his sentence in luxury. For a year he enjoyed luxurious antiques and waltz music.


EPS was operational from 1829 through 1971, and in 1945 from cell block #7, Slick Willie Sutton and 11 other inmates escaped through a tunnel and in short order were captured. Entering into the cell from where the tunnel was dug a heavy and evil presence was felt. In fact, most of that end of cell block 7 had an oppressive presence. One can only imagine the horrors that had happened after the prisoners were returned after their escape.


Each cell had vaulted ceilings with a skylight, central heating, running water, and flush toilet. Attached was private outdoor exercise area contained by a ten-foot wall. Now left to dust, remnants of prison life are held within.

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If you really want to get the hair on your arms to stand, make sure you visit Eastern State Penitentiary during their Terror Behind the Walls haunted house event which begin in mid September and run through the beginning of November. Known as one of the best haunted (prison) houses in the U.S. A fully interactive (optional) haunted house through six sections of the prison is guaranteed to scare even the strongest soul.

Are you strong enough to dare?


37 replies »

  1. The ghosts that inhabit these halls are enough to get my hair standing on the back of my neck, especially those solitary confinement rooms with nothing more than a cot and barely light. :O

  2. Great photos!
    I’d love to go visit that. Call me crazy, but if you do the crime, you do the time! If prison is a nice, cushy place to go, why not do the crime? I think prison should suck bad. Make you think before you do anything to get placed in there.
    I would love to go to the haunted house! 😱😨
    I love the adrenaline rush. I’m not scared in the ghost sense, but love the “BOOS!!!”

    • I tell you Ilex, this place’s haunted house can be a full experience. They grab you and make you part of the act. Somehow I think I may do ok with the solitary confinement. No wait a I wouldn’t! I’d go mad!!

  3. I know I am weird, but I really love checking out prisons (i.e. Alcatraz and will be adding a new one to my list very soon in a foreign land). Loving your captures – love arm chair traveling 🙂 Happy Hump Day!

  4. I have to show this post to my husband. He’s wanted to go here for years! We’ve visited the Ohio Reformatory and other old jails, but this one is supposed to be one of the most haunted places in the US. I don’t think we’d go for a haunted house, but we’d love to spend the night there ghost-hunting. (We’re weird like that.) I’ll have to look into it. These pictures are amazing.

    • Oh I’m excited to hear what he thinks about this place. The show Ghost Hunters have done a couple of episodes here. I bet you can find it online somewhere. I wouldn’t want to stay there overnight though. Way too big and creepy.

      Thanks for your wonderful compliment on the pics.

  5. Uh, yeah, I’ve done the Terror Behind the Walls thing once, and that was enough, haha. Seriously, this place creeps me out in the daytime! Glad you enjoyed your visit.

      • I had a membership to ESP last year and gave away the included haunted attraction tickets to one of my students. Next time you are in the area, you might like to check out Ft. Mifflin near the airport. Interesting place to photograph, and they have paranormal nights, too, if you’re interested.

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