History of Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary was built in 1829 and ran until 1971, and in that time, hundreds of criminals served time within its walls. Eastern State has many claims of paranormal activity and as a result has been featured on several television shows about paranormal activity. These claims began in the 1940’s from inmates and prison guards alike and continue to this day.

Eastern State Penitentiary's cellblock 4, circa 1935
East State as it would have looked in the early 1900s

Eastern State’s Paranormal Claims

  • One of the more compelling ghost stories originating from the prison involved a locksmith named Gary Johnson who was working in Cellblock 4 trying to remove a lock from a cell during the restoration process. In the process of doing so, he felt a presence there with him watching him intensely and looked down the cellblock to find no one there. Continuing on with his work, the feeling once again came over him, but as he looked around once more this time he saw a shadowy figure leap across the cellblock
  • A commonly reported occurrence is the sighting of a figure standing in one of the guard towers. Perhaps it is one of the former guards who finds himself destined to stand watch over the walls of the prison for all eternity
  • Many visitors and staff at the prison have reported hearing the sounds of footsteps down the long corridors and anguished wails coming from inside some of the cells. In Cellblock 6, shadows have been spotted moving against the walls by many of the staff during their rounds and in Cellblock 4 where Johnson had his encounter, faces have been seen inside the cells. Cellblock 12 has been the site of disembodied laughter when a quick check reveals no one present
  • One particular spirit has been seen in the older part of the prison by many. He is said to be a shadowy form that stands perfectly still, sometimes completely unnoticed, until approached at which point he dashes away
  • One of the more notorious and controversial videos taken at Eastern State is one that appeared on the SyFy series Ghost Hunters when members of the Atlantic Paranormal Society filmed what appears to be a shadowy figure on the catwalk of Cellblock 4
  • Pep the dog has been reported to be seen and heard throughout the prison. Pep was given free rein in life to go wherever he pleased and thus is spotted in many different locations
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