The castle-like Eastern State Penitentiary took solitary confinement to new levels when it was built in 1829. Prisoners lived alone, exercised alone, and ate alone; when an inmate left his cell, a guard would cover his head with a hood so he couldn’t see or be seen. The prison had to abandon its solitary system due to overcrowding from 1913 until it closed in 1970, although the forms of punishment did not get any less severe (chaining an inmate’s tongue to his wrists is one example). The site—one of the most haunted places in America—now welcomes thousands of visitors every year, both for its museum and annual “Terror Behind the Walls” celebration, which features 15 haunted attractions within the prison walls for Halloween. Reported paranormal happenings have included disembodied laughter, shadowy figures, and pacing footsteps.
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania