In Pennsylvania, the Eastern State Penitentiary is still a staple in the area. Despite the many years that have gone since it was last used, the building remains to stand and along with it are numerous ghost stories.
Eastern State Penitentiary from the outside. (Link: http://www.snackish.com/2014/10/10/eastern-state-penitentiary/)
According to reports, the Eastern State Penitentiary was the most expensive building ever built in the United States at the time it was put up. It was designed to include 300 prison cells and the prisoners who were kept there were taken there for the purpose of finding God again after they committed a crime. The Eastern State Penitentiary was operational from the year 1829 through 1971. Accordingly, many of those who stayed at the Eastern State Penitentiary have gone insane or made because of the complete isolation in the area.
One of the gates at the Eastern State Penitentiary. (Link: https://www.easternstate.org/press-room/press-releases/long-abandoned-medical-wing-opens-public)
How Did The Prisoners Spend Their Day At The Eastern State Penitentiary?
Because the prisoners were taken to the Eastern State Penitentiary to learn about the word of God and they were not allowed to socialize at all, they spent 23 hours a day in their cells that had a toilet, a table, and a bed bunk. The only thing they can do there is read because the only reading material given to them is a Bible. They are not allowed to go out freely and they only get a glimpse of sunlight, which was coined as “The Eye of God,” at a certain hour of the day and it came from a slit in the prison cells’ ceilings.
One of the rooms inside the Eastern State Penitentiary. (Link: http://rocknrove.com/north-america/usa/eastern-state-penitentiary/)
This system was called the Pennsylvania System and it targeted emotional torment amongst the prisoners than physical abuse. Many U.S. States have adapted this system as well as in Europe.
Talking And Interacting With Other Prisoners Was Not Allowed
As it was aforementioned, the prisoners had to spend a total of 23 hours inside their cells. For the one hour, they were taken out of their cells but they did not see nor talk to anyone during that one hour time-off from their cells. The prisoners had black hoods placed over their head in order to prevent any interaction or communication with the other inmates because doing such means a brutal punishment since such acts were forbidden.
A photo showing the inside of the Eastern State Penitentiary. (Link: https://www.visitphilly.com/things-to-do/attractions/eastern-state-penitentiary/)
Accordingly, some inmates were desperate for humane interaction that they whisper through the vents to each other. Others even tap on pipes just to sort of communicate with the other prisoners. Those who broke the rules faced a number of unforgiving and severe punishments.
One of the punishments was the water bath where inmates who break the rules were dunked in a bath of ice-cold water then were hung on a wall for the rest of the night. It was especially torturous when it was done during the winter months. Another popular punishment was the Mad Chair because after the punishment was over, the inmate will surely have gone mad. During the time at the Mad Chair, inmates are strapped onto it with leather strips that are so tight that the inmates could not move. They sit there for days without any food intake.
However, the most severe out of all the reported punishments was the Iron Gag – which was specifically made for those who broke the no communication rule. Accordingly, inmates get an iron collar clamped onto their tongue. Then, it is chained on his wrists and strapped behind their back. The slightest movement will result to the tearing of the tongue or severe bleeding. Most of the inmates who suffered this punishment have reportedly died due to the loss of blood.
A photo showing the Mad Chair. (Link: https://nepascene.com/2017/06/j-goes-places-eastern-state-penitentiary-philadelphia-5-27-17/)
The Most Famous Ghosts Stories From The Eastern State Penitentiary
The Eastern State Penitentiary operated for 142 years and it is not hard to believe that many tortured souls continue to haunt the place that has made them sick, mad, or even dead. More than 70,000 people have spent most of their lives at the prison cells of this building. Before it was reformed in 1913, the Eastern State Penitentiary, which was supposed to house 250 prisoners were housing 1,700 inmates at that time.
One cell in particular is the Cellblock 12 and many claimed that they have heard cackling and echoing voices from this part of the Eastern State Penitentiary. Cellblock 6, on the other hand, is known to have shadowy figures. One of the people who maintain the prison, Gary Johnson, revealed in one interview that during the 1990s, he opened a lock in Cellblock 4. He claimed that a force gripped him tightly and he was not able to move at all.
The Eastern State Penitentiary is open to the public and there are many tours that take place in the area. Some visitors claimed they heard whispers, giggles, weeping, and more.