Attraction

Eastern State Penitentiary

Radical 19th century prison designed to create social change

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Photo courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary
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Overview

When Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829, spectators from around the world marveled at its grand architecture and radical philosophy.

The experiment, to reform criminals through strict isolation other than daily visits from the warden and guards, soon became a model for prison design worldwide.

Once built, it was the most expensive construction in the USA at the time.

Eastern State finally closed its doors as a prison 1971, after 142 years in use, and has since been named a National Historic Landmark.

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