North of Philadelphia stands the impressive penitentiary of the penitentiary at the turn of a strong castle. Opened in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary revolutionized the prison community. For the first time, corporal punishment is banned, the prisoners are alone in their cells and we think reintegration rather than punishment. Benjamin Franklin is one of those who convinced the state of Pennsylvania to build such a prison, with individual cells. The penitentiary is a reflection of «quaker» thinking, which considers that every man is good at the origin and that solitude favors repentance. The visit allows you to discover the evolution of the site over the years. More recently, the prison served as a film scene, especially for the 12 monkeys with Bruce Willis or Far from Paradise, a film by Joseph Ruben with Joaquin Phoenix supposed to go to a Malaysian prison. The audiotour (narrated by Steve Buscemi, who played in The Big Lebowski or Reservoir Dogs, but also in the Boardwalk Empire series taking place in Atlantic City) is in English, but a paper translation in French is available at the entrance and makes it possible to miss nothing.
Block of Cells 1: this first cell corridor makes it possible to understand the difficulties encountered by the young architect John Haviland. The prison had to contain more than prisoners in a condition of total isolation while at the same time the White House did not have running water. This isolation system was therefore costly and difficult. It was even relatively controversial and ended in 1913. Indeed, the detainees were so alone (guards even wore socks on their shoes so that they could not be heard) that they became insane. In total, the prison has 15 blocks, or 980 cells.
Al Capone Cell: Al Capone was arrested in Philadelphia for illegal weapon use. He stayed here a year. While the Philadelphia court tried to do an example of the villain of Chicago, the guards of Eastern State were generous with him. They allowed Capone to enjoy a comfort that was generally not granted to detainees: radio, antique furniture, Persian carpets…
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