Ward of the State #13692
This is Al Capone’s prison cell with period furnishings used during his stay at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as a “guest” of the state.
In 1929, Big Al had come east from Chicago on “business” to Atlantic City. Rival gangsters who wanted to kill him tailed Capone closely on foot through Philadelphia. To escape certain death, he went up to a street cop and pulled open his coat to reveal a pistol. With concealed carry of firearms illegal in Pennsylvania at the time, Capone got a year in jail. He ended up here at the local Bad Boy Hotel, aka the Eastern State Penitentiary. One of his bodyguards allowed himself to be arrested at the same time and went into prison with Capone to protect him.
Scarface, as Capone was also known, did his short one-year stint in the slammer and was released. Being a man of wealth and power at the time which had some privileges, his furnished cell had a radio, a comfortable chair, and even some art on the walls. By the time he went into the famous Alcatraz prison after he was convicted of tax evasion, his empire had collapsed and he lived as a common inmate.
This is indeed Al Capone’s prison cell in Eastern State. The entire place is somewhat rundown nowadays from time and neglect, but today it’s maintained as a stabilized ruin. That means if something goes to fall or collapse it’s repaired, otherwise the facility is allowed to slowly degrade as the flaking walls show. These period furnishings approximate the appearance of Scarface’s home away from home at the Bad Boy Hotel in 1929.
If you’d care to see what a typical cell in the Eastern State Penitentiary looked like without all the finery privileged wealth could bring, have a look at Bare Necessities #13710. Things certainly look a little more bleak and a lot less homey there. That view was more typical for the average prisoner.
Location: Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks
Up Next: Snow Day #14726