Eastern State Penitentiary

On September 5, 2009, I toured the Eastern State Penitentiary as a member of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia. The Society has been looking through a camera's lens since 1860. It is the oldest active photographic society in the country.


Second floor cell block inside Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State opened in 1829 and closed in 1970. It was built like a fortress. It was converted to a museum because the walls were too thick to tear down.

Eastern State was the center of some of Philadelphia's greatest folklore. America's greatest criminal, Al Capone, spent six months there on a gun rap. It is said that his cell was the lap of luxury. In 1945, bank robber Willie Sutton and hitman Frederick J. Tenuto (who later climbed over the walls of Holmesburg Prison and was never captured) were among 12 prisoners who tunneled under the walls only to be captured within hours. The reconstructed synagogue notes one of its most colorful congregants, Morris Bolber, who helped grieving widows collect on their husbands' life insurance policies.