The Eastern State Penitentiary is a former American prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is located in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia and was operational from 1829 until 1971. The penitentiary refined the revolutionary system of separate incarceration first pioneered at the Walnut Street Jail which emphasized principles of reform rather than punishment.
Notorious criminals such as bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone were held inside its unique wagon wheel design. When the building was erected it was the largest and most expensive public structure ever constructed, quickly becoming a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide.
The prison was closed and abandoned in 1971. Many prisoners and guards were transferred to Graterford Prison, northwest of Eastern State. The City of Philadelphia purchased the property with the intention of redeveloping it. The site had several proposals, including a mall, and a luxury apartment complex surrounded by the old prison walls.
Currently Eastern State Penitentiary operates as a museum and historic site, open year-round. Guided tours are offered during the winter, and during the warmer months, self-guided tours are also available. The facility has been kept in "preserved ruin", meaning no significant attempts have been made at renovations or restoration.