Episode 172: Eastern State Penitentiary: The World’s Most Haunted Prison

On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we discuss Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. This was one of the most brutal prisons in American history, and it is said to be one of the top haunted locations in the US. Before this prison was built, American prisons were just places to throw folks in a cell with no thought toward rehabilitation. Eastern State, however, was different. A committee of Quakers (joined by Benjamin Franklin) designed a prison that would incarcerate but would also change the prisoner by the time he was released. And what were the means of change? Complete and utter isolation combined with labor and torture, of course!

The inmates in Eastern State Penitentiary were denied all human contact for the entire length of their stay. When they were taken in the prison on the first day, they wore a mask with no eyeholes. Often, if they had to get moved from cells to somewhere else, they wore similar masks and gags in their mouths. All prisoners lived in isolated cells by themselves and even exercised and worked alone.

This, quite obviously, led to massive cases of mental illness, which could only be countered by the tortures they had to endure. From extreme straitjackets to a freezing water bath followed by hanging wet prisoners from the walls, and from the “Mad Chair” to the iron gag, life was no good for prisoners. All of this lead to deaths by disease, guards, and suicide, which allegedly left the place haunted. It has been a museum and tourist attraction since 1971, and over 60 supernatural groups per year visit to investigate.

Different cell blocks are known for different types of hauntings and apparitions, and they have been documented by hundreds people over the span of decades. Many investigators, even skeptics, concede that if any place on earth is haunted, it is Eastern State Penitentiary. So, how many people were locked up in this hell hole? What type of hauntings have people reported? What did Charles Dickens have to say after his visit in 1841? What made TV’s Ghost Hunters freak out so badly and post videos for all to see on their website? Listen, laugh, learn.

Here is a good story about someone’s experience at the prison and a clip from Ghost Hunters to wet your whistle!

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/31/opinion/my-philadelphia-ghost-story.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ej0m5ZTQpI

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