Located in the Fairmount section of the city, Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a definite addition to any sightseeing list for the historic city.
Designed as a wagon wheel facility, it was quite the innovative construction effort in its day and is now a National Historic Landmark. Former residence of the infamous gangster, Al Capone, ESP served its intended function from 1829 until 1971. Once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, Eastern State is now full of educational opportunities. As a prison facility, it was the model for over 300 prisons world-wide. In the fall, “terror behind the walls” is one of the scariest haunted houses in the country.
British architect, John Haviland, intentionally designed a gothic look to the facility in an effort to instill fear in the inmates. While more than 100 prisoners escaped over the years, only one was never apprehended. Leo Callahan scaled the wall in 1923 with five other inmates and has never been located. The most intriguing escape was in 1945 and included the notorious bank robber, Slick Willie Sutton. Digging 15 feet down and 97 feet across, a total of ten inmates escaped. Each was apprehended.
Other sites in the area to consider seeing include Longwood Gardens, One Liberty Observation Deck, Rodin Museum and the Historic Mile. The mile covers, the Liberty Bell, National Museum of American Jewish History, the President’s House, National Constitution Center and much more.