National Park Service

The Great American Landmarks Adventure

We punished lawbreakers.

Eastern State Penitentiary
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

When Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829, it was considered a model prison. It was the largest prison in the United States and the first to have indoor plumbing. Each of the 250 prisoners lived in a separate cell that had a small enclosed exercise yard. It was believed that if lawbreakers were not influenced by other prisoners, they were more likely to become responsible citizens. However, this way of punishment ended in the 1880s because it was considered too cruel. Over the years the original prison was expanded to hold 900 prisoners. Eastern State was closed in 1970.

Travel through time to...Upper Green River Rendezvous Site

Step into our time machine!

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