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Visiting Al Capone in Prison

On my third trip to prison I toured Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary. Unlike the prison in men's San Pedro Prison in Bolivia

and the women’s prison in Ecuador

, the U.S. prison no longer functions as such. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxN9BcDAupU Now the Eastern State Penitentiary is a museum. Before its conversion into a museum it served as the United State's largest and most costly public structure. Many famous people have passed through…myself and Charles Dickens for instance! Dickens had once said he wanted to see two things in the United States – Niagara Falls and the Eastern State Penitentiary. While he was first to visit in the 1830's, I explored the abandoned prison in July, 2011.

The architect, John Haviland, strangely modeled the prison after others built beginning in the 1780s in England and Ireland. The idea with the revolutionary new style was to isolate prisoners from both guards and other inmates in order to encourage spiritual reflection and positive change. Think 'solitary confinement' for reference. This new system reflected a new philosophy later adopted in most prisons around the world. The country's most dangerous criminals would spend all of their time alone in hopes of inspiring remorse, and therefore changing into law-abiding U.S. citizens.

Haviland designed each cell of concrete with a single glass skylight. The skylight represented  the “Eye of God”. This symbol would ideally send a powerful message to those prisoners. Al Capone stayed in Eastern State once upon a time in 1929. But through his connections he lived well. Capone, a true American gangster from the prohibition era led illicit activities like smuggling, bootlegging alcohol, and prostitution.

Apparently the prison did not necessarily conform to its ideals. Prison guards and facility staff performed many physical and psychological torture regimens. The punishments ranged from soaking prisoners in freezing water outside during wintertime, or chaining a prisoner's tongue to their wrists. If they struggled against the chains this could cause the tongue to rip. But one of the world was throwing a prisoner into "The Hole", a pit dug under a cellblock devoid of light, human contact, and food for up to two weeks.

The prison officially ceased its operations in 1971. For some years it lay alone in isolation until the city of Philadelphia turned it into the museum you see today.

How to Get There:

Address 2027 Fairmount Avenue Philadelphia, PA 19130 Phone: (215) 236-3300 Adults: $12 Seniors: $10 Students & Kids: $8 Members: FREE CityPASS Adults: $59 CityPASS Child: $39 Sponsor: Go to one of the Florence apartments

, meet other travellers, read the good tips and start living the city as a native. Don’t be fooled!

Jason Bartoli
Jason Bartoli

"Jason is the best person you'll ever meet here. He's just a ray of sunshine. An adventurer, businessman, and has a 4.9 Uber rating. Lovely person inside and out. I say, go message him" - My Mom

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