The US’ first penitentiary is located surprisingly in the city of Philadelphia. Opening in 1829 it was designed to provide prisoners with a place to find penance and become rehabilitated – rather than punish those prisoners that were locked there. In the cells were a bible, a night stand and a bed – above them was a small slit in the walls to allow light in – ‘the eye of God’ they called it. Most prisoners were kept in solitary confinement so they could reflect on the wrongs they had done.
However, as we know from today’s prison system – solitary confinement works in the opposite way of what was originally intended and many prisoners wound up going insane instead of becoming productive members of society as was the intention. It eventually shut its doors in the early 1970s but the prison, left abandoned, was never torn down and is now houses daily tours within the walls (the audio guide is narrated by Steve Buscemi which made it even more entertaining to listen to). In the fall the prison turns into the country’s largest haunted house called ‘Terror Behind the Walls‘.
Photo of the Day – The Infirmary
The gate to the Infirmary remained locked during my visit so I wasn’t able to head down this wing and see what types of treatments prisoners received while being held at the prison in the 19th century although I can’t imagine it was very civil. The prison eventually gained the reputation of being a very hard place to ever leave ‘normal’ from.