Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary is considered
the first ‘modern’ prison — the place where solitary confinement was invented. Opened in 1829 — and added onto over the years — this building
provided each prisoner with an individual cell equipped with heat, flush toilet, skylight and
private exercise yard. More than 300 prisons around the world followed the building's design and
method of handling prisoners, which came to be known as the Pennsylvania System. Initially,
prisoners were forbidden to speak to each other and were hooded when not in their cells. Cut
off from all human interaction prisoners often went mad — so the policy of absolute
solitude was eventually dropped.
Eastern State continued to house inmates until 1971. The prison sat abandoned until the
mid-1990s when it was opened up to the public as a historical site. It is now a beautiful but haunted ruin.
[James Mundie's photographs of Eastern State Penitentiary]