Opened in Philadelphia a few days before Halloween in the fall of 1829, this cold and daunting prison has been reported as haunted since the early 1940s when late-night workers “claimed to see odd things and hear strange voices.” Closed in 1969, and abandoned in 1971, the number of sightings has only increased.
The prison was built to hold all of its inmates in complete extreme solitude. Many men were driven to insanity from their treatment while incarcerated there. Some of the punishments at Eastern State included being dunked in ice water and hung from a wall overnight, strapped tightly into a chair for days without food and unable to move, being thrown into a pit, and having an iron collar clamped onto the tongue and then chained to his wrists which were strapped behind his back.
Charles Dickens wrote of his visit to the prison in the 1840s in disparaging terms commenting on the “psychological torture the inmates suffered.”
Al Capone is one of the more well-known inmates of Eastern State Pen. It is said that he was haunted by the ghost of one of his St. Valentine’s Day massacre victims while he was incarcerated there and even after his release. Other inmates often heard him screaming at the ghost to leave him alone.
Many visitors, workers, and paranormal researchers and investigators to the prison have reported feeling that they are being watched, hearing the sounds of footsteps and wails throughout the corridors as well as crying, laughing, and whispering. Other activity includes a man dressed in black, shadow-figures on Death Row, a man standing in the guard tower, a cackling laugh from Cell Block #12, a dark figure “sliding down the wall” in Cell Block #6, and the faces of ghosts in Cell Block #4.
These ghostly faces appeared on the cell wall when a locksmith was doing some restoration work in Cell Block #4. Supposedly removing an ancient lock from the cell door, he was stricken by a “massive force” and “unable to move.” One of the suffering faces appeared to “beckon the locksmith to him.”
Eastern State Penitentiary is now an historical landmark and open to the public for tours. Many professional paranormal investigations are conducted there each year.
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