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Eastern State Penitentiary

The radical nineteenth-century prison designed to create social change...

Photo courtesy Eastern State Penitentiary

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When Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829, spectators from around the world marveled at its grand architecture and radical philosophy.

The experiment, to reform criminals through strict isolation other than daily visits from the warden and guards, soon became a model for prison design worldwide.

Once built, it was the most expensive construction in the United States at the time.

After 142 years in use, Eastern State finally closed its doors as a prison in 1971. It has since been named a National Historic Landmark.

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