Terror Behind the Walls

I recently visited Eastern State Penitentiary's haunted house, Terror Behind the Walls. It was a pretty good haunted house; my only complaint is that there were way too many people walking through with me (thus I saw many of the people in front of me get scared). The creepiest part, however, was simply walking down the dark corridors of the old, decaying site, looking into the cells and seeing only darkness. At the end of the tour, there was a small museum showing the far more interesting history of the old penitentiary.

Eastern State Penitentiary was built in the 1820s under the Quaker philosophy of reform through solitude and reflection, and has held the likes of Al Capone and Willie Sutton. Covering around 11 acres in Philadelphia, it has become a Historic Site. From the moment he arrived until the moment he left, the prisoner would see no one. The furniture of the 8x12 cell consisted of a mattress and a bible. "...Silence, solitude, the bible, never a moment of human contact, never a voice heard at a distance, the dead world of a living tomb..." In the end, the solitary confinement of Eastern State ended up driving most of its inmates insane, until 1903 when the idea of complete isolation was abandoned. By the time Eastern State was closed in 1971, it had become just another old, crowded prison with the usual share of brutality, riots, hunger strikes, escapes, suicides, and scandals. I think a regular guided tour and commentary would be scarier than the haunted house was...