The Separate System


This winter, I visited my neighbor – the Eastern State Penitentiary.  It was my third visit, though still not complete.  Come spring, I’ll be able to visit the institution in its entirety.

The penitentiary was constructed in Philadelphia in 1829 and became the model for many prisons to follow.  What’s special about this penitentiary is that it was created to instill just that – penitence.  Unlike the prisons most common prior to its construction, Eastern State kept prisoners in solitary confinement, “The Separate System,” to promote the rehabilitation of inmates.

It’s notable radial plan was designed with the intention of being able to keep an eye on all cells at once from a central hub.  I can’t do our tour guide justice, but it’s cool to know that this piece of history sits in my backyard – and Al Capone was here!

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