Inside Philadelphia's Fairmount neighborhood sits a 185-year-old prison that stopped housing inmates more than four decades ago. Yet it's hardly forgotten. Today, it's better known as a tourist attraction and a historic landmark.
Built in 1829 when the neighborhood was still a rural suburban district, the Eastern State Penitentiary spent 142 years of its life hosting tens of thousands of prisoners. With a unique hub-and-spoke layout and programming that focused on reforming inmates, in its early years Eastern State gained an international reputation. In 1831, Alexis de Tocqueville, along with travel companion and prison reformer Gustave de Beaumont, visited the facility. Impressed with its then-innovative solitary confinement approach, they reported back to the French government: