Notable Residents: Willie Sutton, Al Capone
Amenities: Cells with central heating
The terrifying Eastern State Penitentiary is a menacing presence that looms over the Fairmount section of North Philadelphia. It opened its doors in 1829, cementing the system of separate incarceration first seen at the Walnut Street Jail, which emphasized reform as opposed to punishment. Spanning 11 acres, it was the largest and most expensive public structure made at the time, and would go on to be the model for hundreds of prisons over the following years. As part of the Separate System, or Pennsylvania System, the warden was required to visit every prisoner daily at the world's first true "penitentiary." Much of the U.S. opposed this system, instead preferring the Auburn System, which believed that prisoners should work in silence and be punished physically.
During the prison's time of operation, its cells were highly advanced. They featured faucets with running water in place over a toilet that flushed and central heating. The prison's original design featured seven, one-story cell blocks. By the time the third block was built, the prison was already over capacity, and all subsequent blocks were made with two floors. Blocks 14 and 15 were built by prisoners and were used to house the worst of the inmates. The Pennsylvania System collapsed due to overcrowding in the early 20th century, and ESP operated as a congregate prison until it closed in 1970. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1966, but was abandoned by 1971. During the 1980s, a forest grew within the prison. It became a home for stray cats until it was opened to the public for tours in 1994.
Eastern State Penitentiary now operates as a museum, with tours available year-round. It's remarkable for to its haunting appearance, something the media has picked up on. Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and MTV's Fear all filmed at ESP, and it appeared on an episode of Cold Case. Terry Gilliam filmed Twelve Monkeys, with Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis, at ESP, and the prison can be see in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.