Philadelphia's Most Haunted Prison

Philadelphia's Haunted Prison

Photo: Eastern State Penitentiary

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Philly Haunted GhoastPhiladelphia, PA - Whether you're a haunted house enthusiast, a hard-core ghost hunter, or just someone who loves the occasional freakfest, the city of brotherly love has something for you.


Is Eastern State Penitentiary Haunted?

Philadelphia has at least 15 Haunted Houses exhibits throughout the year, which climbs when Halloween rolls around. While these are all top-notch nightmare fodder, you can't beat "real" haunted spots. However, as luck would have it, Philly has those, too. In fact, the state is home to some very mysterious places indeed.

The most notable of these places has to be the Eastern State Penitentiary. It was claimed to be America's most historic prison. It once held the notorious gangster Al Capone and the infamous bank robber Willie Sutton within its walls. It was an active prison for 142 years. Designed to keep prisoners in intense isolation and performing manual labor to encourage spiritual reflection and, ultimately, reform.

However, the situation was far from ideal. For one thing, the prison was subject to overcrowding. Designed to house only around 250 prisoners, an estimated 1,700 prisoners called its dreary halls home during the height of its operation in 1913. For another, the isolation and rumored abuse by the jailers were suspected of having given rise to mental illness among its inmates instead of making them into better citizens. Some have speculated that these conditions would have negatively impacted prisoner health and thus presumably led to more than a few miserable deaths and account for the spirits wandering its now-empty halls.

The Eastern State Penitentiary was eventually shut down in 1970 and until the mid-'80s when the Philadelphia government reformed the site and preserved it for its historical value. Rumors ran rife that the place was haunted and abandoned or not; ghost hunters and television shows flocked to the site to prove the paranormal phenomenon. Eventually, the people who ran the prison decided to capitalize on this. Today, every October, they host "Terror Behind The Walls," a nighttime tour of a collection of five haunted exhibits within the rambling 11-acre complex.

Whether or not the souls of the prison has garnered several accolades for its freakout factor, not the least of which is the recognition of #1 Haunted House in America, as bestowed by the AOL City Guide in 2008. Hauntworld Magazine dubbed it the 9th Haunted Houses in the United States. At the same time, The Scare Factor's haunted house review website called it "Best Haunted Attraction."

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