Once the largest prison in the United States, Eastern State Penitentiary seems like a ghost, itself, conjuring images of pulp horror movies and tv shows. Although Eastern State hasn't housed a prisoner in over 45 years, visitors and employees alike claim that the building—located in the Fairmont section of Philadelphia, PA—is far from empty. With a long history of famous criminals, inmate abuse, and paranormal activity dating back to the 1920s, Eastern State Penitentiary is considered by many to be one of the most haunted places in the world.
We've all seen something out of the corner of our eye that raises the hairs on our neck. Maybe you've seen a ghost appear and vanish right before your eyes. At Eastern State Penitentiary, the spirits can get a little physical. An employee in the early 1990s described the terrifying experience of being "gripped" by an unseen force while doing some stand repairs in the building. The employee wanted to run, but felt frozen in place as they saw shadowy faces, some of which spoke to him, appear inside the long-empty cells of cellblock 4. While employees today try to dismiss this story as a fantasy, it has remained one of the most famous tales of the prison's afterlife.
"The Catwalk" at Eastern State is another area of heavy paranormal activity. In addition to seeing figures out the corner of their eyes, and getting the general hibbie jibbies in this area, people have managed to record the ghosts that haunt the Catwalk. The ghost-hunting show recorded what appears to be a figure running between cells below the Catwalk. A visitor of the prison also reports to have a recording of a ghost saying, "I'm lonely."
Someone or something. Cellblock 12 holds the distinction of being the most haunted wing of Eastern State Penitentiary. Since the prison's closure in 1971, numerous visitors and employees have reported the appearance of a dark figure that vanishes once you get too close to it. Individuals who encounter this apparition feel physically ill afterwards, and have intense feelings of terror during the event. Even when it isn't seen, whatever haunts Cellblock 12 can sometimes be heard laughing in the shadows.
For eight months between 1929 and 1930, gangster Al Capone walked the corridors of Eastern State. Capone lived rather luxuriously compared to the other inmates. The already notorious criminal had a cell furnished with a writing desk, armchair, electric lamp, and radio. Even with all the comforts of home, Capone claimed that the ghost of a man murdered in the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre haunted him throughout the months he spent at the prison. Guards even heard Capone screaming out in the night. Was Capone simply trying to spook the guards, or was there already something about the prison itself that drew restless spirits to it?