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Forgotten Places - Eastern State Penitentiary

This abandoned prison in Philadelphia housed some of America's most infamous gangsters, including Al Capone. Full of its fair share of spooky stories and escape attempts, this massive complex is now classified as a 'living ruin'. With a favor from a friend, I was given behind-the-scenes access to some of the closed off areas and here are the results!

My favorite places to shoot are abandoned buildings and structures. The changing scenery and the way nature always reclaims human influence is a great thing to try capturing on film. Plus, I have probably watched too many zombie apocalypse movies and any excuse to poke around in these old places is a good one.

This time I am off to the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia where my friend works as a guide for the small portion that is open to the public. Due to decades of decay after its closure, many sections are closed off for safety reasons. These are the best areas because of the “virgin material”. Many cells still had furniture, magazines, cleaning materials, even moldy 40-year-old pillows!

Its revolutionary system of incarceration was the first to establish the policy of separate confinement, emphasizing principles of reform rather than punishment. Notorious criminals such as bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone were held inside its unique wagon wheel design. When the building was erected it was the largest and most expensive public structure ever constructed, quickly becoming a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide.

written by analogeyes


  1. sthomas68


    I LOVE your article!!! I went here for their annual Halloween event and just loved it. Great atmosphere, totally worthy of being one of the best haunted houses in the U.S.! Wish I could have taken pictures. Love your chair shot...looks like a movie prop!

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  2. analogeyes


    Thanks! Actually they have done a few films in the prison including Twelve Monkeys. The chair was originally located in another section but was moved to this cell after its closure. I was really tempted to sit in it just to give myself the creeps but I didn't want to disturb the room.

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  3. toffeeish


    those are some really creepy shots!! Good job!!
    your lucky that your friend let you in!!
    May I ask what camera you used for these pictures??

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  4. analogeyes


    Thanks, Sorry I thought I included them in the article. it was my Canon A-1 with kodak 400 and Ansco Speedex 4.5 with Fuji 120 400.

    about 4 years ago · report as spam
  5. mylatehope


    Wonderful images of an amazing place!

    almost 5 years ago · report as spam
  6. king-louie


    I love such abandoned buildings!
    great pictures!

    almost 4 years ago · report as spam
  7. sgf23


    I was just here last week! Hopefully I get some good shots too!
    over 2 years ago · report as spam

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This is the original article written in: English. It is also available in: Spanish.