catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 4, Num 14 :: 2005.07.15 — 2005.07.28


The end of the tunnel

Eastern State Penitentiary: Eastern State Penitentiary's
Board of Commissioners hoped the building's grim facade would instill
fear in the hearts of lawbreakers. "The exterior of a solitary prison
should exhibit, as much as possible, great strength, and convey to the
mind the misery which awaits the unhappy being who enters within its
walls." Book of Minutes of the Board of Commissioners. March 26, 1822.
Photo: Albert Vecerka, 2001.

The year was 1830, and sitting on a small rise called Cherry Hill, a
half-mile north of what was the young city of Philadelphia, loomed the
foreboding facade of the newly constructed Eastern State Penitentiary.
It was built to look to the outsider like a threatening gothic
fortress. It towered above the rolling fields as an ominous reminder,
wrought in cold, dark stone, of what terrible consequences awaited the
horse thief, pickpocket and fornicator.

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