Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Philadelphia Pennsylvania

Looking south toward Center City Philadelphia, 2015. Courtesy of Tim Emgushov.

Author : Sara Jane Elk is President and CEO of the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America).

Abstract : Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts.

This article explores the origin of the penitentiary, the rise and fall of the Pennsylvania system of prison reform in the 19th century, how it was copied worldwide, and its closing and abandonment.  After twenty years of neglect, this National Historic Landmark was reopened as a prison museum in 1994.  Today it is a stabilized ruin that hosts over 300,000 visitors annually for tours, exhibits, artist installations, events and the annual fall fundraiser, Terror Behind the Walls.

Fairmount Avenue elevation, 2001. Courtesy of Albert Vecerka.

Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts.

Opened by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1829 and operating until 1970, its vaulted, sky-lit cells held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone.[1]

Used as a prison by the City of Philadelphia for several months in 1971, it was finally abandoned and the site sat vacant and neglected for over 20 years.

Today the semi-ruined penitentiary is open as a cultural site and museum with an educational tour program that

features exhibits, special events, and site-specific artist installations. The United States imprisons 2.2 million citizens, the highest incarceration rate in the world, by far, and yet has no national prison museum. Eastern State can fulfill that role. In addition to the tour program established in the mid 1990s, Eastern State Penitentiary has introduced public dialogue around issues of crime, justice, and the changing face of the U.S. criminal justice system.

Eastern State is owned by the City of Philadelphia and operated by a non-profit entity, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc.

Eastern State:  The Rise of the Pennsylvania System

Ruinous Cellblock 11 from Death Row Yard, 2015. Collection of Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site (ESPHS).

Constructed between 1822 and 1836, architect John Haviland’s massive Gothic Revival structure epitomized the Pennsylvania system of imprisonment, a system grounded in the Quaker concept of reflection through separate confinement and the belief that prisoners should learn trades through labor.

Built of local stone, Wissahickon schist and gneiss, Eastern State Penitentiary occupies approximately 11 acres, completely surrounded by a 30-foot high perimeter wall with corner crenellated towers. Its only entrance occurs through the gates of the Administration Building, which occupies the center third of the front wall. With its three crenellated towers and barred, lancet-slit windows, the Administration Building dominates the front exterior and epitomizes the Gothic Revival style.

Within the walls, the original seven cellblocks with double-loaded corridors spread from a central octagonal Observatory like the spokes of a wheel, defining the radial or “hub and spoke” plan. Cellblocks 1 through 3 are single-story; Cellblocks 4 through 7 contain two stories. The solitary cells of these blocks each had private adjacent exercise yards and a “controlled environment,” which included individually supplied heating, ventilation, natural light, water, and sanitary plumbing. Prisoners housed in second-story cells used an adjoining cell for exercise.

Decades after the completion of the original penitentiary, various additions and modifications were inserted into residual spaces between the cellblocks without obscuring the original geometric vision; those constructed in the 19th century resembled Haviland’s prototypes, whereas those in the 20th century disregarded the penitentiary’s unique history and imitated the typical American institutional construction of the period. Originally built for 450 prisoners, by the time the penitentiary closed in 1971 it had housed a maximum population of approximately 1700. The major form and fabric of Haviland’s design remain essentially intact, including the perimeter wall, the Administration Building, the seven cellblocks with their many individual cells, and the interior of the Observatory at the intersection of these cellblocks.

Eastern State: An Early American Landmark

Abandoned Hospital Block (Cellblock 3), 2001. Vecerka.

Eastern State Penitentiary is the most influential prison ever built.[2] While some prisons have gained cultural significance through the political prisoners held there (such as South Africa’s Robben Island, which held Nelson Mandela) or their place in popular culture (such as San Francisco’s Alcatraz), it is Eastern State Penitentiary that has had the greatest impact on the treatment of typical prisoners, worldwide, during the past two centuries.

Spawned by powerful movements in social reform in the 18th century, Eastern State Penitentiary dominated an emerging worldwide prison reform movement in the early decades of the 19th century. Its goal of reform was to be carried out by isolating prisoners from one another in individual cells. Work, education, and religious activities took place in the cells and inmates exercised in a yard attached to his or her cell. The regimen was known as the Pennsylvania or Separate system. (The system was modified in some American states by allowing work and one meal a day in a congregate setting with absolute silence enforced. This so-called Auburn or Silent system, where reform was secondary to punishment, was developed at Auburn and Sing Sing prisons in New York state.[3] Sing Sing was built especially to accommodate such a system.)[4]  Eastern State Penitentiary’s distinctive radial layout, its state-of-the-art plumbing, ventilation and heating systems and its revolutionary method of prisoner separation served as a blueprint for prison design on six continents, resulting in over 300 prisons influenced and inspired by its architectural features.[5]  In addition, the presence of integrated “environmental controls,” the first such installations in the world, inarguably renders it the first “modern” building.[6]

This influence, beginning even before the prison was completed, continued into the 20th century: it was named a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1965, while still operating as a prison. No other prison has come close to such broad and deep influence on the theoretical underpinning, architectural expression, and technology of prison design worldwide. While the original fabric of Eastern State Penitentiary remains remarkably intact, later additions into the prison complex reflect the further evolution of ideas and technology in incarceration. As a result, the penitentiary today embodies both the single-most influential prison design ever built, and the many changing theories and technologies that have followed it.

Barber chair, 2005. Courtesy of Michael Cevoli.

In 1818 the Pennsylvania General Assembly adopted a new system of prison discipline within the Commonwealth and authorized the construction of two penitentiaries: the first (unsuccessful and no longer extant), for the Western District, was built shortly thereafter near Pittsburgh. In 1822 site grading and foundations began for the Eastern Penitentiary in Philadelphia according to the design and programmatic statement of the architect John Haviland.[7] Located on a former cherry orchard, on what was later to be Fairmount Avenue, it was built on the outskirts of Philadelphia. [8]

The first components completed were the perimeter wall, the “Headhouse” or Administration Building, and the central hub building, or Observatory. Three one-story cellblocks followed between 1826 and 1831, with the first one receiving prisoners in October 1829. Beginning in 1831, in response to increasing population pressure, Haviland modified the cellblock designs to include a second story and to provide various improvements. The four two-story cellblocks, constructed between 1831 and 1836, were the ones that served as models for most subsequent Separate prison designs abroad, although some based on the single-story wings were erected, particularly in Japan and China.[9]

Although Haviland’s gloomy fortress was undoubtedly designed to impress and intimidate—with its massive Gothic Revival exterior and lonely hilltop location—it gives way to an interior that is quite the opposite, though no less impressive.[10] Within the walls, parts of Haviland’s prison structure suggest ecclesiastical architecture. High corridors and small cells, both with barrel-vaulted ceilings, more closely resemble churches and chapels.

Haviland’s prison was designed from the prisoner outwards, whose needs for health and comfort formed the basis of his 1822 “Explanation of a Design for a Penitentiary.”[11] This document was a proposal for professional services written in the form of a social vision. Haviland is therefore credited with the first complete—albeit imperfect—realization of such a vision.

Eastern State: A Prison for Its Time

Abandoned storeroom, 2005. Cevoli.

Eastern State Penitentiary was, at the time of its construction, the most carefully studied and visited prison in the world and as such, was the flagship of the social reform movement in the 19th century.[12] The penitentiary demonstrated the powerful precedent of rendering social theory tangible in a complex and expensive structure materially demonstrative of the new values of a society intent on social and humanitarian reforms.

Out of the social ferment of the Enlightenment and the dramatic shift in power during the Industrial Revolution came increasing concern for the law, both in theory and in practice. Beginning during the latter half of the 18th century in Britain, the reform of penal treatment and the law reached its greatest development stage in Europe. The story of prison reform traditionally begins with the investigations of John Howard, a philanthropist and county sheriff in Bedfordshire, England. He produced factual and detailed descriptions of conditions in British and European prisons and houses of correction, which appeared in successive editions of his State of the Prisons, first published in 1777.

Prison reform during this period quickly gained a large measure of public and governmental support. Because of his findings of the undesirable influence of convicts on each other, Howard had proposed a regimen of individual cells and work in silence. He felt that proper surveillance over prisoners and guards would solve many of the evils of contemporary prisons. With the loss of the American colonies as receptacles for transported felons, and because capital punishment was increasingly viewed as excessive and was beginning to be used less in the late 18th century, more jails and prisons had to be built, particularly in Ireland and England, to hold a rapidly increasing penal population. Surveillance, coupled with a system of either separating prisoners into classes according to their characteristics, or individual celling, was generally regarded as the sine qua non of good jail and prison administration. This was about the extent to which a penal philosophy had developed. The little workhouses, jails, and county prisons erected during this period reflected this preoccupation with surveillance, but seldom permitted the realization of this limited goal. In the instances where the authorities tried separate confinement, overcrowding usually led to its abandonment. Although by the early years of the 19th century the reformation of the criminal had become one of the aims of the prison reform movement in Britain and the Continent, a consistent and detailed program or internal regimen did not emerge until the 1830s.

Engraving of Eastern State Penitentiary, 1831. C. Burton.

Such extensive reform would seem a luxury of a settled country with long-established governments and social structures. But the reformers in the 19th century looked to the New World for inspiration to bring new life into their stalemated prison reform movements. In some North American colonies, notably Pennsylvania, where the Quakers were active, reform of the criminal law and the prisons came early. Quakers and like-minded reformers established the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons in 1787, now known as the Pennsylvania Prison Society. The members of the Society, the first of its kind in the world, exerted continuous pressure on county and state lawmakers to substitute imprisonment for death, resulting in the conversion of Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Jail into a state prison in 1790.[13]

Initial physical facilities at Walnut Street prison were too limited to allow for a more elaborate regimen or the large increases in population and subsequent numbers of prisoners. In the following four decades the Philadelphia reformers devised a coherent penal philosophy with its roots in Christian ideas of redemption anchored on earlier uses of monastic imprisonment, limited attempts at prison reform in Europe and, of course, the continued influences of the Quakers. The Philadelphia reformers knew Howard’s State of the Prisons and Elizabeth Fry’s efforts to improve the lot of women prisoners at London’s Newgate jail.[14]

Because the troublesome issue of penal reform was “in the air” in the late 18th and early 19th centuries in Europe and the Americas, a new and successful method of reform and its associated architecture were of greater public concern and interest to political and governmental figures. Immediately after the American Revolution the reform efforts in the new republic came to the attention of Europeans, some of whom were interested in viewing for themselves its exemplary social experiments. In 1793 the duc de la Rochefoucauld-Liancourt (later to be president of the National Assembly in France), visited Walnut Street Prison in Philadelphia and in 1796 an account of the visit was published in Philadelphia and Paris.

Eastern State: The First “Modern” Building

John Haviland radial plan as completed in 1836. Demetz and Blouet, Rapports . . . sur les pénitenciers des États-Unis, 1837.

John Haviland synthesized a building plan for Eastern State Penitentiary that considered the difficult demands of both servicing and isolating prisoners. The conceptual plan reveals the purity of his vision.[15] Seven cellblocks radiate from a central surveillance observatory. Haviland’s mechanical innovations at the penitentiary, which were integral to his 1822 design, were unprecedented in their consistent application and interdependence. This was in an age when most houses of the wealthy had no running water and were heated with coal-burning stoves; but at Eastern State, each prisoner had his or her (female inmates were held at Eastern until 1923 when they were transferred elsewhere) own private cell that was centrally heated and artificially ventilated, with running water, a flush toilet, and a skylight. Adjacent to the cell was a private outdoor, unroofed exercise yard contained by a 10-foot high wall.

In addition to the world-wide influence of the radial plan, Eastern State Penitentiary inarguably represents the first consistently executed attempt at providing building occupants with a completely artificial controlled environment, primarily achieved through the use of innovative technology. Haviland labored over expanding rudimentary techniques to serve on an unprecedented scale. The “sanitary plumbing” consisted of cast-iron water closets, soil lines, and house sewers supplied from a central reservoir and discharged by giant stop cocks at the end of each cellblock; fresh water was also supplied to taps in each cell. For light, he designed custom-cast skylights (initially conical in the first three blocks, changing to pyramidal after 1831) to maximize natural light to the cells, where prisoners were to work during the day.

Haviland designed full-height mechanical tunnels under each block. To provide heat in each cell, coal-burning furnaces at the end of each block were to heat the underground chambers and deliver warm air through adjustable floor vents in each cell. Fresh air supply was separated from its traditional source, operable fenestration, and instead provided from the outside of the cellblocks, via controllable registers at the floor, and exhausted to foul-air exhaust plenums above the corridor vaults. In winter, the currents of hot-air supply and ventilation exhaust would reinforce each other, anticipating the air systems used by David Boswell Reid at Perth Prison in Scotland and at the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.[16]

The application of advanced technology to ameliorate social ills and the reliance upon such technology to create a predictable and controllable environment represent key tenets of the so-called Modern Movement in architecture, and thereby justify the claim that the penitentiary, as much or more than other iconic structures such as the Crystal Palace, represents the first “Modern” building. From its initial occupancy, the penitentiary demonstrated both the strengths and weaknesses of the new reliance on specialized technology in the built environment.[17]

Haviland also designed an elaborate method to dispense food in the first three blocks, through a “feeding door and slot” on the corridor side, which on the cell side converted to a small table. As construction of Eastern State progressed, Haviland constantly modified these systems. For example: the feeding doors and slots were abandoned for larger doors from the corridors in the last four blocks; later cell skylights were enlarged and were operable to further improve on the ventilation of the earlier cells; and in Cellblock 7, the corridor is wider, with second floor cells set back to provide more natural light.

Eastern State:  A Model for the World

Across the globe, 2014. Collection of ESPHS.

Eastern State Penitentiary was the most influential example of a prison designed from the ground up to carry out a new method of penal reform. Although some prisons have enjoyed greater notoriety or were associated with historic events—the Bastille, London’s Newgate, and Devil’s Island come to mind—no other single prison has ever come close to wielding such influence in the field of prison treatment. More than a prototype of architecture and strategy for rehabilitation, Eastern State Penitentiary is a remarkable symbol of the optimism, energy, and good intentions of the 19th century, during which Philadelphia and the rest of the country believed that anything was possible in the new republic.

Virtually all prisons designed in the 19th century were based on one of two systems: New York state’s Auburn system, adopted ultimately by most American states, and Pennsylvania’s Separate system, adopted worldwide. The Pennsylvania system was embodied in the architecture of Eastern State, which represented the willingness of its advocates to spend generous resources on the reform of the individual, rather than the control of criminals as a class, through the achievement of a physically decent and comfortable environment, as opposed to a warehouse or “a human cage.”[18] In the vaulted, sky-lit cells, the prisoners at Eastern State had the light from heaven, the word of God (the Bible provided by the institution) and honest work (shoemaking, weaving, and the like) to lead them to penitence.

The distinguished architectural historian, Henry-Russell Hitchcock, had written that Eastern State Penitentiary “ . . . provided a new functional concept for penal architecture influential abroad . . . “[19] and the architectural historian George Tatum observed that “As the culmination of a generation of experiments in penal reform, the Philadelphia prison was among the most famous buildings of the day and the first to exert wide influence abroad.”[20]

Al Capone Bertillon Card. Courtesy of the Philadelphia City Archives.

In 1831 two young French magistrates, Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville, came to the United States to visit Eastern State and other prisons. At Eastern State Penitentiary Tocqueville interviewed every prisoner over eight of the twelve days he spent in Philadelphia and later the two published their findings in Paris. A few years later, the French government sent Frederic-Auguste Demetz, a magistrate, and Guillaume Blouet, a government architect, to America. In 1837 Demetz and Blouet published their report (including plans and sections of Eastern State) favoring the architecture and system of treatment embodied in Philadelphia.[21]

Other countries had a keen interest in Eastern State Penitentiary. In 1831 the British Home Office sent Sir William Crawford to study American prisons. He was most impressed with Eastern State and published his report in 1835, including plans.[22]  Upper Canada (Ontario) and Lower Canada (Quebec) also sent representatives in 1832 and 1834, respectively, and corresponded with Eastern State’s architect, John Haviland. In 1834 Prussia sent Dr. Nicolaus Julius of Berlin to Eastern State. He too favored the architecture and system he found in Philadelphia.[23] Other countries or colonies also sent government officials to Philadelphia, including Spain, Brazil, Peru, Norway, Antigua, Jamaica, and Puerto Rico.[24]

During his 1824–1825 travels through the United States, the Marquis de Lafayette visited Eastern State Penitentiary while it was still under construction.[25] Other notables visited the prison as well: Andrew Jackson and John Quincy Adams in 1833, the Emperor of Brazil, members of the British parliament and the French Chamber of Deputies. In 1860 the Prince of Wales, who would later become Edward VII, became the first member of the royal family to tour the former rebellious colony. Although he was in Philadelphia for fewer than two days, he managed to attend an opera, have a possible romantic encounter with its lead singer, and visit Eastern State Penitentiary.

In 1842 Charles Dickens visited Eastern State Penitentiary. He is quoted as having said, ” . . . the falls of Niagara and your penitentiary are the two objects I might almost say I most wish to see.”[26] Because it was famous—and also because it was a prison—there were many visitors to Eastern State who were merely tourists, including Native American chiefs, and tribal representatives from Wisconsin and Michigan. The visitors to Eastern State from Latin America and Europe generally favored the Pennsylvania system and the architecture associated with it, over that of the Auburn system.[27]

In the 19th century Europe suffered from a labor surplus. The United States, in contrast, had a chronic shortage of laborers.[28]  Europe readily accepted the Pennsylvania system and tolerated the less efficient use of inmate labor that was part of separate confinement. In the U.S. thriving factories produced profits and goods. The Auburn system seemed irresistibly rational, particularly as, prior to the strengthening of organized labor, outside businesses were sometimes allowed to build and manage factories within the prisons, selling prison-made products in the open market, defraying much of the costs of imprisonment for the state. Consequently, although the Pennsylvania system of separation was tried briefly in a handful of states, it was abandoned except in the Philadelphia institution. The radial design of the Eastern State Penitentiary influenced prison design around the country, even into the 20th century, but generally U.S. prison architecture was built around the Auburn system.

Eastern State:  From Philadelphia to SimCity

Inmate work crew, c. 1930. Collection of ESPHS.

Great Britain was the first to build a prototype prison patterned after Eastern State. In London after William Crawford’s return from his American trip, Parliament passed legislation laying the foundation for the national government to gain some control and uniformity over the country’s local prisons.[30] The inspectors appointed to carry this out strongly favored the Pennsylvania system, and the “Model Prison,” later known as Pentonville, was built between 1840 and 1842.[31]  Later, the credit of developing the radial plan used at Pentonville was largely “due to Mr. Haviland, the architect who designed and erected the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.”  In England and Wales, prisons were rapidly constructed following variations of the Pentonville plan until the end of the 19th century. As early as 1885, the head of the Prison Commission, Edmund Du Cane, wrote that 54 other prisons were erected according to Pentonville’s general design.[32]

With Haviland’s designs, both as provided by the architect and as published by Demetz and Blouet, and Pentonville’s construction, Eastern State was to influence construction in many of Britain’s colonies: for example, St. Vincent de Paul (1873), and the Bordeaux Jail (1913), both in Montreal; Australia (Berrima, New South Wales, 1840, and Melbourne, Victoria c. 1850s); New Plymouth and Auckland, New Zealand in the 1880s; Pul-e-Charhi near Kabul, Afghanistan; Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, 1936; Valletta, Malta, c. 1860; Rangoon, Burma, c. 1890s; and Shanghai in the 1930s.

The Pennsylvania system and its architecture at Eastern State Penitentiary and, in turn, its satellite Pentonville, also influenced prison reform on the Continent. In Berlin’s Moabit section a prison adopted the Pentonville model in 1844, and was also widely copied. Another German penal establishment went up at the same time by the same architect, at Ratibor (now Racebórz, Poland) on a different radial plan. This structure became official policy in Germany until the First World War. In Belgium such prisons designed for the Separate system were first built at Verviers (1853). Belgium completely rebuilt its prison system according to the Eastern State model at enormous expense. The large institutions of St. Giles in Brussels (1878-1885) and Louvain (opened 1860) are dramatic examples.

Eastern State. Eastern State Penitentiary: Historic Structures Report. Marianna Thomas (ed.), 1995.

Spain rebuilt its penal institutions on the Pennsylvania model beginning with Vitoria (1859-1861), the Prision Modélo in Madrid (1877) and its post-Civil War replacement, Carabanchel (1952). Other Continental countries constructed prototype prisons, usually but not always, in their capitals: Amsterdam, Holland (1847-1850); Oslo, Norway (1851); Gävle, Sweden (1847) and the Långholmen central prison near Stockholm (1878); Helsinki, Finland constructed by the Russians in 1881; Copenhagen, Denmark (1860); Switzerland in several cantons such as Lenzburg in Argau (1859); Budapest, Hungary (1895); and Lisbon, Portugal (1884). Similar prisons went up in Italy: Palermo (1840), Alessandria in Piedmont (1846), and Milan (1879). Like many regions of Europe, Russia was plagued by political instability and lack of money. Its first modern radial cellular prison was constructed at Staraya-Russa (1881-1885) on a plan used for smaller prisons during that period. A jail on a radial plan opened in St. Petersburg (1880) and a large central prison, Kresty (1884-1890), recently been removed from use. France, with similar problems, built its first cellular radial prison in Paris, Mazas, between 1840 and 1850. A similar prison was also erected on the Rue de la Santé between 1860 and 1867.

Central and South America were influenced both by American and European reforms. They built radial prisons and instituted the separate system especially in prototype institutions erected in their capitals. For example, in Argentina, a prison was built in Buenos Aires in 1872; the Director-General of Architecture in that government was later quoted as describing Eastern State Penitentiary as its model. Prisons on various radial layouts were subsequently erected in Córdoba, Olomos and Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego). Prisons also went up in Recife, Brazil (1855), Lima, Peru (1862), Quito, Ecuador (1870s), Bogota, Colombia (1876), Cochabamba, Bolivia (1950s) and in San José, Costa Rica (1915).

Center, c.1893. Haviland wrote that the radial plan was a design that would promote “watching, convenience, economy and ventilation.” From Michael J. Cassidy, Warden Cassidy on Prisons and Convicts (Philadelphia: Patterson and White, 1897).

Asia, beginning in Japan and then China, completely rebuilt their systems based on the architecture and program first developed in Philadelphia. British and French penologists influenced Japan and British colonial prisons in Hong Kong and Singapore. Japan’s first reform prison was at Miyagi in 1879, a classic seven-wing radial. Between 1879 and 1936, a series of 34 radial prisons were built. Segmented exercise yards were characteristic, as they were in Europe. Cellblocks were usually single- or two-story structures. China initiated a massive building program sparked by Japanese architects and with clear roots in the Pennsylvania system. With the start of the Peking (Beijing) First Prison in 1909, 16 new prisons containing multiple radial arrays of cellblocks were erected in the next 20 years. Some were to be used for the Auburn system, others for the Pennsylvania Separate system.

The countries that adopted the Pennsylvania system did so for varying periods of time. Although overcrowding or lack of resources sometimes caused the Pennsylvania system to be abandoned, it remained the ideal for the 19th century and beyond.[33] The system endured longest in France, until after World War II.[34]

Ironically, the radial design often outlasted the system that gave it its form. The radial design of the Eastern State Penitentiary influenced a handful of prison structures throughout the United States.[35] Most of these structures reflect the influence of Haviland’s work, but a few erected in the 1980s are merely examples of utilizing the layout for visual surveillance.

The architecture associated with Eastern State Penitentiary for the most part did not serve as a model after World War II, although a number of prisons on the hub-and-spoke design were built. In the United States such buildings went up in Washington state (1954) and New Jersey (1968). Spain, which had built a radial prison in its Philippine colony in 1865, continued to construct classic radials, including the huge Carabanchel prison in Madrid (1952). It had seven wings attached to a central hub and was intended for 8,000 prisoners housed two or three to a cell. Very large prison complexes comprised of a series of hub and spoke units, utilizing observation centers and attached cell wings, also went up in France and Italy, at Fleury Merogis near Orly (1968) and Rebibbia in Rome (1971), respectively. Holland built Zutphen prison, opened in 1997, and Canada opened radial layout prisons at Burnaby near Vancouver (1995), Millhaven (1967) and Coansville (1968). The video game SimCity may be the last copy, as it uses a radial plan as its prison.[36

Eastern State: The Erosion of the Pennsylvania System

Al Capone’s Cell, furnished according to 1929 newspaper article, 2003. Courtesy of Tom Berault.

As tourists flocked to Philadelphia in the 1830s and 1840s to see this architectural wonder, a debate grew about the effectiveness and compassion of solitary confinement. Was it cruel to hold these men and women without outside visitors, without books or letters from home, without contact with the outside world? Accounts vary.

Alexis de Tocqueville visited Eastern State Penitentiary in 1831 with Gustave de Beaumont. They wrote in their report to the French government:

Thrown into solitude… [the prisoner] reflects. Placed alone, in view of his crime, he learns to hate it; and if his soul be not yet surfeited with crime, and thus have lost all taste for any thing better, it is in solitude, where remorse will come to assail him…. Can there be a combination more powerful for reformation than that of a prison which hands over the prisoner to all the trials of solitude, leads him through reflection to remorse, through religion to hope; makes him industrious by the burden of idleness.”[37]

Charles Dickens did not agree. He recounts his 1842 visit to Eastern State Penitentiary in Chapter Seven in his travel journal, American Notes for General Circulation. The chapter is titled “Philadelphia and its Solitary Prison:”

In its intention I am well convinced that it is kind, humane, and meant for reformation; but I am persuaded that those who designed this system of Prison Discipline, and those benevolent gentleman who carry it into execution, do not know what it is that they are doing….I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body; and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye,… and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear; therefore I the more denounce it, as a secret punishment in which slumbering humanity is not roused up to stay.[38]

The critics eventually prevailed. The Pennsylvania system was abandoned in 1913.

Exercise yard door, 2006. Collection of ESPHS.

The later additions to the Eastern State Penitentiary complex illustrate the compromise reached when this munificent, ill-fated intellectual movement collided with the reality of modern prison operation. Warden Michael Cassidy added the first additional cellblocks in the 1870s and 1890s.[39] They retain the barrel vaults and skylights, the feeding doors and mechanical systems. Mirrors provide continued surveillance into the new cellblocks from the observatory. But the cells did not include exercise yards. Inmates were issued hoods that covered their entire faces except for their eyes. They would exercise together, in silence and anonymity.

The system of solitary confinement at Eastern State did not so much collapse as erode over the decades. A congregate workshop, the Industrial Building, was added to the complex in 1905, eight years before the Pennsylvania system was officially discontinued.

The penitentiary administration produced a silent movie in 1929 to celebrate the building’s Centennial. The film focuses not on the historic nature of the building, aside from occasional references to its age, but on the modern improvements and recent changes made to the building. It depicts the new; factory-style weaving shops; the commercial-grade bakery and kitchens, staffed by dozens of inmates 24 hours a day; and the new guard towers with searchlights and sirens. Inmates are seen by the hundreds, filling the yards between spokes of the cellblocks. They line up in the new dining halls. But these inmates moved, throughout, in the shell of the old Pennsylvania system. The cells, now used for two or three men, have barrel-vaulted ceilings, skylights, and a curious, walled-up door in the back. The workshops and dining halls are 10 feet wide and hundreds of feet long; they are former exercise yards, roofed over, their party walls removed.

Still more cellblocks were constructed throughout the 20th century. Reinforced concrete replaced stone. The new cells were small, square, and lit by ordinary windows, but the halls had the catwalks and skylights typical of the early Eastern cellblocks. The cellblocks were invisible from the observatory. Subterranean and windowless cells, with neither light nor plumbing, brought a return to solitary confinement at Eastern: this time the isolation was not for redemption, but punishment.

The last major addition was made to Eastern State Penitentiary’s complex of buildings in 1956: Cellblock 15, or Death Row. This modern prison block marked the final abandonment of any aspect of Eastern’s original architectural vocabulary. The fully electronic confinement system inside separated the inmates from the guards at virtually all times. Within the penitentiary’s perimeter wall, built with the belief that all people are capable of redemption, prisoners awaited execution.

By the 1960s, the aged prison was in need of costly repairs. The Commonwealth closed the facility in 1970, and after a year of partial operation by the City of Philadelphia, the building was officially closed 142 years after it admitted its first inmate. In 1988, with the site threatened by prolonged disuse, and with only inappropriate reuse proposals proffered, the Eastern State Penitentiary Task Force successfully petitioned Mayor Wilson Goode to halt redevelopment. The Pennsylvania Prison Society opened the penitentiary for the first season of regular guided interpretative tours in 1994, and, in 1997, signed a 20-year agreement with the City to operate the site. A new non-profit corporation, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc., took over the agreement in 2001.

Eastern State: From Ruin to Historic Site

Stabilized ruin open for tours, 2009. Collection of ESPHS Courtesy of John Van Horn.

Eastern State Penitentiary is open today as a stabilized ruin with selected restoration projects. This historic preservation approach has been widely recognized as innovative and ambitious, yet has been also cost effective for a non-profit reopening a vast abandoned site for visitors.

Despite the perception that a massive stone prison is indestructible, the powerful forces of nature took a toll and threatened Eastern State with total ruin. During this period, vandals entered the site and broke many of the 1,100 skylights, exacerbating the deterioration already underway from leaking roofs, clogged drains, a forest of vegetation, and poor drainage. In 1998, in a building condition survey, the buildings were deemed saturated.

In 1988, when the City reversed its plans to sell the site, it did so in favor of a planning effort to help determine the best use for the site, lead by the Eastern State Penitentiary Task Force.[40] The City also agreed to support the initial stabilization efforts and gave a temporary license to the Pennsylvania Prison Society for a trial tour program. Thus the dual effort of stabilizing and preserving the site for public interpretation began.

Even while this was underway, the World Monuments Fund twice named Eastern State to its Watch List of 100 Most Endangered Sites (1996 and again in 2000), indicating how tenuous the effort to preserve and open the site was viewed. Only six sites in the Unites States were included on the 2000 list.

Stabilization began when the City removed the vegetation in 1993. Seasonal public tours began in 1994, with visitors wearing hard hats and signing waivers acknowledging safety hazards. The City also helped support the first three roofing projects in 1995–1997, beginning with the Haviland structures – the Administration Building, Cellblock 1 and the Cellblock 1 Link.[41]  The Link structure connects Cellblock 1 to the Observatory, today known as Center.

Cellblock 4 roof, 2007. Collection of ESPHS.

The roofing project over the Cellblock 1 Link set the stage for the preservation treatment of the historic building fabric that has continued throughout all capital projects – to preserve or conserve significant fabric, and to strive for reversibility. The Link roof had lost portions of its metal roof over this corridor, leading to deterioration of structural members and damaging the plaster below. Every attempt was made to inspect the integrity of each component and replace in kind or conserve the building fabric. A new metal roof, with a 75-year lifespan was installed and the wooden roofing structure below was left exposed to show the new work. The plaster was either grouted back to its stone substrate or screwed into the historic lathe.

Over the next few years, the City’s Department of Licenses and Inspections worked with Eastern State to achieve a Certificate of Occupancy, the process that deemed the public spaces compliant with building safety codes.

In the spring of 2000, a $1,000,000 roofing project restored the painted galvanized metal roofs over Center and the Links to the remaining Haviland cellblocks.[42] This ensured safe access to all of the radial plan blocks for future expansion of the tour route.

Underneath the roofs, questionable corridor skylight structures and loose plaster restricted safe access to several of the Cassidy blocks. After the removal of loose plaster, creative stabilization design called for support structures under the skylights and webs of netting attached to the ceilings to catch falling plaster. This work met the goals for the 2003 season; eliminating hard hats, vastly expanding the tour route, and introducing an audio tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi for all walk-up visitors.

Annual visitation began to climb, and grew from 11,000 the first year to nearly 100,000 in 2008. The fall fundraiser, Terror Behind the Walls, became increasingly popular and profitable. Both demanded additional capital improvements. In 2008, several major construction projects began. The staff moved into the site in a newly rehabilitated area after outgrowing two storefront offices across the street.[43]  Work also commenced on the next major roofing projects for Cellblocks 2-4, 7-11, and 15. They were finished in 2013.[44]

A 2015 – 2016 roofing project will finish the roofing stabilization work.

Stabilization and protection work to date has included 25-year roofs over the Administration Building, Cellblocks 1, and 9-11. Painted, galvanized, 75-year roofs have been installed over Center and the Links, Cellblock 9, and the Catholic Chaplain’s Office. The Haviland blocks, originally covered with poor quality Pennsylvania slate, now have DaVinci slate, a 50-year composite polymer shingle material that resembles original grey slate roof. For buildings not ready for use, stabilization efforts protected the roofs and window openings. In 2005, Tuff-Wrap (industrial shrink-wrapping) was installed over Cellblocks 5 and 6, and two years later it was used on the Industrial Building, and the Kitchen complex.[45] Unusual in its application, it has preserved these buildings from catastrophic loss.

Eastern State: The Stabilized Ruin with Selected Restorations

As visitation rose and staff infrastructure began to track visitors and members, an annual appeal began. Over the years it has built a donor base and helped support the restoration of places along the tour route that enhance the interpretation of daily life during Eastern State’s years as a prison. Projects include the restored 1830 solitary confinement cell, an 1830s exercise yard, the 1926 Greenhouse, and the Cellblock 3 (Hospital Block) Operating Room. Two big projects of note are the Synagogue and the Catholic Chaplain’s office.[46]

The Synagogue Restoration

Synagogue restoration in progress, 2008. Collection of ESPHS.

Situated within the row of converted exercise yards along Cellblock 7 is a synagogue used by the Jewish inmates of Eastern State from the early decades of the 20th century until the prison’s closing in 1970.

Historical research has revealed a compelling story about the Eastern State synagogue.[47]   Although there were never more than 80 Jewish inmates at any one time, these prisoners were consistently looked after by volunteers from the outside Jewish community. Records show that as early as 1845, Jewish inmates were visited by local rabbis who provided them with counsel and religious reading material. During the 1920s, after the abolition of solitary confinement, the synagogue was created so that Jewish inmates could congregate and observe the Sabbath and various holidays. Organizations such as B’nai B’rith not only helped fund various phases of construction of the synagogue, they also made sure that all holidays were properly observed. The effect of the charity bestowed upon these inmates is reflected both in their letters of appreciation, as well as in their willingness to dedicate their own time and savings towards redecorating and refurbishing the synagogue over the years.

Years of neglect took a toll on the room. The synagogue was in a state of partial ruin – masonry walls were deteriorating and large portions of the decorative plaster ceiling had collapsed. However, the Synagogue retained clear indications of its former use – imprints of Jewish stars mark the entrance, a reader’s table stood in the center of the room, and a well-preserved wooden Torah Ark adorned the eastern wall.

Preliminary work on the synagogue’s restoration began with an “excavation” of the layers of debris that covered the floor, resulting in some interesting discoveries including several Hanukkah song sheets found buried underneath six inches of mortar and plaster. Samples of plaster, paint and mortar also survived as critical evidence of what the synagogue looked like at various times. Finally, an analysis and treatment plan of the wooden benches and Torah Ark was completed.

The dilemma of the appropriate preservation approach was resolved through a charrette and a full restoration returned the room to its respectful place as a shul.[48] Critical stabilization of exterior walls, restoration of roof and skylights, and selective conservation and restoration of interior masonry, plasterwork and furnishings took place in 2008 and 2009. The award winning Synagogue restoration, with an accompanying exhibit of Jewish life, opened to visitors in the spring of 2009.

The Catholic Chaplain’s Office

Catholic Chaplain’s Office opens, 2014. Collection of ESPHS.

This small structure was originally built in the 1880s as Warden Michael Cassidy’s office. After his death, it was reconfigured to house the prison chaplains. The two-roomed Catholic Chaplain’s Office contains unique evidence of a prisoner’s faith – 23 murals painted by a single inmate.

Lester Smith painted the murals in 1955 and used the signature “Paul Martin” to honor his two favorite saints, St. Martin DePorres and St. Paul. Smith was a self-taught artist who had converted to Catholicism in prison before being transferred to Eastern State. When Father Edwin Gallagher, the penitentiary’s Catholic Chaplain (1952-1958), witnessed Smith painting in his cell, he invited the inmate to decorate the offices where he met with and counseled inmates. Smith painted nearly every day of his seven-month incarceration and left behind beautiful and moving images to inspire others. Most striking and personal is the mural of the kneeling prisoner seeking absolution through his confession.

The murals were in peril when planning began for the tour program in the 1990s, as they were painted on interior wall paint that was detaching from the plaster substrate. In 1995 funding was secured to hire a paintings conservator to stabilize the murals back to the walls with wax and tissue paper to preserve them until conservation could begin.

Following the success of the Synagogue restoration, the Catholic Chaplains Office project began. A miniature historic structures report was commissioned for historical research and an in-depth analysis of the deteriorated building and the murals. The study detailed proposed treatments for structural preservation, interior finishes and mural conservation.

Work began in 2012 with the restoration of the building envelope, including a new painted metal roof, new electrical service and installation of climate control. For the interiors, the state of the murals drove the preservation approach – the stabilized ruin. The interior architectural finishes were stabilized and conserved in their existing state. In June 2013 the yearlong mural conservation began as a team of paintings conservators painstakingly secured flaking paint, removed the protective facing, reduced discolored adhesive and grime, and compensated some areas of paint loss.

The conservation project opened in late summer of 2014. These powerful murals remain a testament to the story of one inmate who underwent a powerful change while in prison and complements the restored Synagogue by expanding the discussion of spiritual life at Eastern State – a subject both deeply important to the men and women who lived behind these walls and intriguing for contemporary visitors.

Eastern State:  An Overview of Programming

Artist installation, 2014. Courtesy of Jesse Krimes.

In 1990 the Board of Directors adopted the following mission statement:

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. (ESPHS) works to preserve and restore the architecture of Eastern State Penitentiary; to make the penitentiary accessible to the public; to explain and interpret its complex history; to place current issues of corrections and justice in an historical framework; and to provide a public forum where these issues are discussed. While the interpretive program advocates no specific position on the state of American prisons, the program is built on the belief that the problems facing Eastern State Penitentiary’s architects have not yet been solved, and that these issues remain of central importance to our nation.

We believe that Eastern State Penitentiary is the best site in the United States to address the history and current state of the American criminal justice system. The Quaker-inspired “Separate system” of the early decades, combined with extraordinary architectural and engineering innovations, inspired hundreds of copies worldwide. In later decades, Eastern State mirrored the “big house” prison operations common throughout the U.S. The penitentiary illustrates, with architecture, the shifting priorities of nearly two centuries of correctional philosophy.

Eastern State complements Independence Hall and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia addressing the modern legacy of major chapters of American history. It highlights the accomplishments of prominent citizens in re-envisioning the response to societal issues. It interprets the social history of the poor, the recently immigrated, and the disenfranchised with a scale of audience seen at only a few sites in the nation.

Current daytime programming includes The Voices of Eastern State Audio Tour, Hands-On History, artist installations, and history exhibits in one admission price.

The Voices of Eastern State Audio Tour, is a rich, stereo soundscape that mixes dozens of voices – including three former wardens and 25 former guards and inmates – creating an intimate walking tour of Eastern State’s cellblocks and yards. The main route includes 10 audio stops and lasts about 35 minutes. Additional stops provide visitors with more than two hours of content, including Death Row, the solitary exercise yards, the restored Synagogue, and Al Capone’s Cell.

Hands on History tours are short demonstrations that take place throughout the penitentiary complex, each lasting about five minutes. An expert Eastern State tour guide leads each activity, although visitors do the bulk of the physical activities themselves. Stops include How to Open a Cell, Opening the Massive Front Gate, and Exploring the Underground Punishment Cells. The Operating Room, the Catholic Chaplain’s Office and Soup Alley (leading to the mess halls) are also open through Hands on History tours.

Artist installations have become integral with interpretive programming. Each year Eastern State juries applicants. Artists are chosen for their ability to address Eastern State’s primary themes — including issues of crime and justice, architectural history, and the site’s fascinating past — with a memorable, thought-provoking approach. Typically eight – ten installations are on view each season.

The 2015 history exhibits and artist installations can be viewed here: http://www.easternstate.org/visit/regular-season/history-artist-installations

Eastern State Penitentiary: A Forum for Discussion

Big Graph Exhibit, 2015. Collection of ESPHS.

Eastern State Penitentiary is introducing public dialogue around issues of crime, justice, and the changing face of our criminal justice system.

The Big Graph, a 16-foot tall, 3,500-pound plate steel sculpture installed in 2014, illustrates three sets of statistics, depending on the viewer’s position. From the south, the structure illustrates the unprecedented growth in U.S. incarceration rates since 1900. From the north, it illustrates the racial breakdown of the American prison population in 1970 and today. From the east, The Big Graph charts every nation in the world, both by rate of incarceration and by policies around capital punishment.

The Big Graph can be updated through the year 2020.

From The Big Graph text:

The expansion of the U.S. prison system in the past 40 years is truly historic in scale. For more than a century, the U.S. imprisoned between 100 and 200 people for every 100,000 citizens. That began to change around the time that Eastern State Penitentiary closed in 1970. New laws and longer prison sentences began to dramatically increase the prison population. Today the U.S. imprisons more than 700 people for every 100,000 citizens. This is the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Crime rates have gone up and down throughout these years. They are largely independent of the rate of incarceration.

A new exhibit and dialogue space, Prisons in the Age of Mass Incarceration, will provide a place for reflection and dialogue around the complex issues of crime and justice in America today and will open in 2016.

The exhibit will occupy a 1,200-square-foot former workshop located off the baseball field. Its location at the end of the main audio tour route will make it a natural stop for visitors who have just completed a tour. Ample seating will encourage visitors to linger and explore the exhibit.

Prisons in the Age of Mass Incarceration (working title) will function as a counterpoint to The Big Graph. As powerful as facilitated dialogue around The Big Graph is, the full story is not just about patterns of millions of people and billions of dollars. The deeper story is about the impact on specific lives, how citizens will frame these discussions moving forward, and the role of every American in shaping criminal justice policies in the future.

Prisons in the Age of Mass Incarceration will not be designed to foster debate, which presses a specific viewpoint. It will urge dialogue, which encourages civil and open interaction. Dialogic interpretive models are grounded in participation, active listening, and respecting divergent viewpoints.

Eastern State has become a tourist destination, attracting 200,000 visitors annually to the daytime programming. Nearly 70% come from outside of the Philadelphia region and 10% of those are international. Terror Behind the Walls attracts an additional 100,000 visitors over its 29 nights in the fall from every state in the union. The site’s popularity can be attributed to memorable programming, an effective marketing program and the success of TBTW. But the power of the building cannot be denied. Most visitors do not anticipate encountering a huge, empty semi-ruin that provokes thoughts about thorny societal issues.

We anticipate that The Big Graph and its accompanying exhibit will promote the discussion of ideas and advance Eastern State as an important forum. The state of the U.S. criminal justice system has reached a point of crisis. We believe this haunting historical setting, that embodied prison reform in the 19th century, is the appropriate place to discuss the potential for change.

Eastern State Penitentiary, a National Historic Landmark, is open every day (Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.)

[1] Al Capone had been arrested but never convicted of a crime or sentenced to prison before his 1929 Philadelphia arrest. Capone had never been photographed or fingerprinted by authorities prior to this. He spent most of that sentence in relative comfort at Eastern State, where he was allowed to furnish his cell with antiques, rugs, and oil paintings. Bank robber Willie Sutton joined eleven other men in a doomed 1945 tunnel escape.

[2] Norman Johnston, “The World’s Most Influential Prison: Success or Failure?”  The Prison Journal Supplement to 84 (December 2004): 20S.

[3] The prison reform movement in the United States evolved in the 1820s into two competing systems for reform and their associated architectures. The Auburn system involved confining inmates at night in tiny single cells arranged back-to-back on multiple freestanding tiers within the cellblock walls, and working the inmates in congregate workshops. The Pennsylvania system at Eastern State confined inmates in large solitary cells in which they also worked, ate, worshipped, read religious tracts, and exercised. It was hoped that the inmates would reflect on their past errors and abandon their criminal ways. Both systems adopted a rule of silence to thwart contact between inmates. Silence was rigorously enforced in the Auburn system by the threat of corporal punishment, whereas the Pennsylvania system attempted to obtain the same objectives through separate confinement.

[4] See David Rothman, The Discovery of the Asylum (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1971), chap. 4, and Harry Elmer Barnes and Negley Teeters, New Horizons in Criminology (New York: Prentice-Hall, 1945), chap. 23.

[5] Norman Johnston, with Kenneth Finkel and Jeffery A. Cohen, Eastern State Penitentiary: Crucible of Good Intentions (Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1994), 79 and note 16, p. 112. Also personal communication from Dr. Norman Johnston, Professor Emeritus, Arcadia University, March 27, 2007.

4 David A. Cornelius, Eastern State Penitentiary: Historic Structures Report, Marianna Thomas (ed.),. Philadelphia, Philadelphia Historical Commission, 2 vol., 1994, of which he was a coauthor, and more recently in the Institutional Building Systems of John Haviland: A Study of Innovation and Influence.

[7] Haviland was the architect of other important buildings such as churches, the Franklin Institute (1825), the Pennsylvania Institution for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb (1822, now the University of the Arts), and a naval hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia, he was increasingly regarded as the prison architect. He built state penitentiaries in New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Rhode Island, and Missouri, several county prisons in Pennsylvania and Newark, New Jersey, and the famous Halls of Justice and jail in New York City, later known as the “Tombs.” Norman Johnston, “John Haviland,” in Pioneers in Criminology, chap. 5.

[8] Negley Teeters and John Shearer, The Prison at Philadelphia: Cherry Hill (N.Y.: Columbia University Press for Temple University Publications, 1957), especially chaps. 1-3.

[9] Teeters and Shearer, Cherry Hill and Norman Johnston, Forms of Constraint: A History of Prison Architecture (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000): 128-132.

[10] Encyclopedia Londinensis (London 1826), s.v. “Prisons.”

[11] John Haviland Papers, University of Pennsylvania, 1: 19-20.

[12] This was shown by the extensive studies of the disciplinary and organizational aspects of the Pennsylvania system by representatives of European governments. France sent two magistrates, Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville who wrote On the Penitentiary System in the United States, trans. Francis Lieber (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1837). The Prussian government dispatched Nicolaus H. Julius, a prominent criminologist, who produced Nordamerikas sittliche Zustände: Nach eigenen Anschauungen in den Jahren 1834, 1835 und 1836 (Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus, 1839). More significantly, more extensive descriptions of the Philadelphia penitentiary’s design and construction were contained in the report of the British Home Office’s emissary, William Crawford, in his The Penitentiaries of the United States (1835; rpt. with a new introduction by Norman Johnston (Montclair, N.J.: Patterson Smith, 1968). The French sent four commissioners, including F.-A Demetz, a magistrate and prison reformer, and G.A. Blouet, a government architect. Their report, Rapports . . .sur les pénitenciers des États-Unis was published in Paris by Imprimerie Royal in 1837.

[13] Teeters and Shearer, Cherry Hill and Negley Teeters, They Were in Prison: A History of the Pennsylvania Prison Society 1787-1937 (Philadelphia: John C. Winston Co., 1937).

[14] Teeters and Shearer, Cherry Hill, 11, and Teeters They Were in Prison, 249.

[15] Reproduced in Crucible, 37.

[16] For the importance of Reid in the development of modern heating and ventilation concepts, refer to Robert Bruegmann,  “Central Heating and Forced Ventilation: Origins and Effects on Architectural Design,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 337 (1978): 143-160.

[17] Cornelius, “Innovation and Influence,” 6-25.

[18] Johnston, Norman, The human cage: A brief history of prison architecture, 1973.

[19] Henry-Russel Hitchcock, Architecture: Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Pelican History of Art, edited by Nikolaus Pevsner (New York: Penguin Book, 1981), 121.

[20] George Tatum, Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects (New York: Free Press, 1982), vol. 2, s.v. “Haviland, John.”

[21] Blouet’s drawings of the Eastern and New Jersey penitentiaries, based on drawings provided by Haviland, were extraordinarily detailed. Upon publication, they were exhaustively scrutinized by Crawford and his colleagues developing the English model prison, as well as by their Scottish and French counterparts; Blouet’s drawings established the graphic standard maintained in turn by Surveyor-General of Prisons Joshua Jebb in the documentation of his designs for the Construction, Ventilation and Details of Pentonville Prison (London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1844). Haviland’s plan for the Eastern Penitentiary was even copied line for line in the great Prussian architect Schinkel’s master plan for the Moabit district of Berlin, indicating the proposed location for the Prussian model prison.

[22] Crawford, Report. See especially xv-xvi and 11-12.

[23] Julius, Nordamerikas sittliche Zustände.

[24] For a complete explanation of these visits see Johnston, Forms of Constraint.

[25] In Brief Sketch of the Origin and History of the State Penitentiary for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia (Philadelphia: McLaughlin Bros., 1872), by the long-time member of the prison’s Board of Inspectors, Richard Vaux, it was noted that Lafayette had commented that the exterior, especially the towers, reminded him too much of the Bastille. His reaction was hardly surprising. A few days after the taking of the Bastille by the revolutionary mob in 1789, Lafayette, as commandant of the National Guard in the city, had ordered the destruction of the prison. He himself was later imprisoned under harsh conditions in Prussian and Austrian prisons for nearly four years.

[26] Vaux, Brief Sketch, 94.

[27] Johnston, Forms of Constraint, chaps. 6 and 7.

[28] Johnston, et al. Crucible, 69.

[29] For example, an immediate result of opening the Eastern Penitentiary was strong agitation, led by Haviland and prominent social reformers Dr. Thomas Kirkbride and Dorthea Dix, against the imprisonment of the insane and for the construction of a dedicated asylum for the insane in Pennsylvania. The objective was achieved in 1852 by the construction of the State Lunatic Hospital in Harrisburg, designed by Haviland according to the influential Kirkbride echelon plan for mental hospitals. See First Annual Report of the Board of Trustees of the State Lunatic Hospital of the State of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg: Theo. Fenn & Co., 1852).

[30] Great Britain, Second Report of the Inspectors of Prisons (1837) and Third Report (1838). Both are briefly summarized in Crawford, Penitentiaries in Johnston’s “Introduction,” xv.

[31] For general discussion of specific prisons. ii., see Johnston, et al. Crucible and Johnston, Forms of Constraint.

[32] Edmund Du Cane, The Punishment and Prevention of Crime (London: Macmillan, 1885), 56.

[33] Details of the spread of Eastern State’s architecture and regimen are in Johnston, Forms of Constraint, especially chapters 6 and 7 and in Johnston, et al. Crucible, chap. 5.

[34] Johnston, “World’s Most Influential Prison,” 40S, ftnt 8.

[35] Johnston, et. al. Eastern State Penitentiary, 70.

[36] https://www.flickr.com/photos/mrjmartin/4858887248?ytcheck=1

[37] Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville who wrote On the Penitentiary System in the United States, trans. Francis Lieber (Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard, 1837).

[38] Charles Dickens, American Notes, New York, The Modern Library, 1996 [Introduction by C. Hitchens].

[39] Michael Cassidy started working at Eastern State as a carpenter in 1861. He rose to the position of watchman before becoming the principal overseer. He became warden in 1881 and retained that position until his death in 1900. See his Warden Cassidy on Prisons and Convicts (Philadelphia: Patterson & White, 1897).

[40] The planning process was funded by the Pew Charitable Trust, the Getty Foundation and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Museum Project Grant.

[41] Supported by the City of Philadelphia, the Pew Charitable Trusts and a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Keystone Historic Preservation grant.

[42] Supported by a 2000 $500,000 National Park Service Save America’s Treasures grant, $355,000 from the City and $55,000 from Eastern State’s fundraiser, Terror Behind the Wall (TBTW).

[43] This $1,000,000 project was entirely supported by TBTW.

[44] Support for this $6,000,000 came from the Commonwealth’s Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program (RACP) and Keystone grant, as well as the City’s Cultural Corridors grant, the Pew Charitable Trusts and TBTW.

[45] Support for these projects came from Annual Appeals, the City, the Commonwealth and TBTW.

[46] These projects were funded primarily by private donations, the Pew Charitable Trusts and TBTW.

[47] Laura A. Mass, The Synagogue at Eastern State Penitentiary: History and Interpretation, Masters Thesis, University of Pennsylvania, 2004.

[48] Defined as a gathering of stakeholders to debate the issue. What is it that’s being defined? Meeting does not end until a decision is made. Here the group consisted of board members, donors, architectural conservators, preservationists, interpreters and historians, who reached the consensus for restoration based on sound historical research and complete building material analysis.

Citer ce billet
Jean-Lucien Sanchez (2017, 24 mars). Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Criminocorpus. Consulté le 27 mai 2024, à l’adresse https://doi.org/10.58079/ndc7

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