When you hear the word “penitentiary,” most of you will think of words such as scary or haunted. I will not lie and say I did not think of the same words when I first heard of this place. This is my 2nd year with the STAMP program and I must say that this place is very interesting and I wanted to learn even more. I picked Eastern State Penitentiary as my museum this year because I love horror movies and anything supernatural. This institution has a great history and I am here today to share my experiences here and tell you a little bit more about how this place came to be.
During the American Revolution, the U.S. wanted to change the ways of their institutions. Institutions that we know today were made in the years of the Enlightenment. In 1787, a group of Philadelphians were concerned with the prisons they had back then. Dr. Benjamin Rush proposed an idea. That idea was to build an actual penitentiary. The definition of penitentiary is a prison that is designed to make criminals reflect on what they did wrong and make them regret whatever they did that got them there. Eastern State Penitentiary did not want to punish its criminals or treat them badly. This penitentiary opened in 1829 and closed 1971.
Now, onto my experience at this place. The first time I came here was last year, with the STAMP teen council. Even before you came in, you can sense the eerie atmosphere and can tell this place was old. The design of this place is a castle-like construction. I love this place already. Also, when you walk around this place, it feels like you’re going back in time. I can imagine the criminals sleeping inside these small, cramped cells. I love how real this place is. It’s not like a haunted house you would visit during Halloween season. No, these halls I was walking through, were once halls criminals roamed on.
I want all of you STAMP members to come here and explore this penitentiary. I mean, Al Capone was once kept here! Who doesn’t know who he is?! That, my friend, should’ve already made you run towards a PLASH bus and use your STAMP cards!