19th Century Prisons: what were they before they became prisons?

KorbenDallas

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The original title of the below video is "Tartarian Prisons: Not the Original Use". It was published on the Curious Life YouTube channel. The author analyzes beautiful structures, which somehow ended up serving as prisons. Some of the buildings are truly beautiful, and their construction had to cost a lot of money?


Also, one of the legitimate questions was the capacity of those prisons with respect to the population size at the time. With barely any people in the mid 19th century US, why were these prisons so big? Who were the clients?

Example: Eastern State Penitentiary
Designed by John Haviland and opened on October 25, 1829, Eastern State is considered to be the world's first true penitentiary. Eastern State's revolutionary system of incarceration, dubbed the "Pennsylvania system" or separate system, encouraged separate confinement (the warden was legally required to visit every inmate every day, and the overseers were mandated to see each inmate three times a day) as a form of rehabilitation.

Originally, inmates were housed in cells that could only be accessed by entering through a small exercise yard attached to the back of the prison; only a small portal, just large enough to pass meals, opened onto the cell blocks. This design proved impractical, and in the middle of construction, cells were constructed that allowed prisoners to enter and leave the cell blocks through metal doors that were covered by a heavy wooden door to filter out noise. The halls were designed to have the feel of a church.

Prison and its prisoner?
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Some believe that the doors were small so prisoners would have a harder time getting out, minimizing an attack on a security guard. Others have explained the small doors forced the prisoners to bow while entering their cell. This design is related to penance and ties to the religious inspiration of the prison. The cells were made of concrete with a single glass skylight, representing the "Eye of God", suggesting to the prisoners that God was always watching them.
The video contains many amazing examples of the so-called "prison" architecture of various building styles. Please take a moment to watch, and share your opinions. If you have any worthy photographs of the older prisons, please share as well. Add a little description to the buildings, if you can.

KD: In reference to the Eastern State (PA) Penitentiary, here is an interesting sentence:
  • The foundations for Eastern State had been laid in 1787, when a group of Philadelphians concerned with the overly harsh treatment and unsanitary conditions that they witnessed in the Pennsylvania Prisons organized the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons.
The 1790 population was 434k. How many prisons did they need in 1787. Another question is, how many they already had? And most importantly, who cared about prisoners at the time?

Really, who was incarcerated in those multiple prisons? Tartarians?
 

BStankman

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Moyamensing Prison, Philadelphia. Debtors wing.
Moyamensing Prison - Wikipedia
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completed in 1835
changes in law ended the imprisonment of debtors and the wing was combined with the main prison in 1868 and used to house women prisoners.
The prison was destroyed in 1968. Today, all that is left is a low heavy masonry stone wall remaining on the site along Reed Street where the Acme Market sits today

1690816909
 

Bear Claw

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I am not posting this for reasons of debating your point, or stating what I believe to be an objective truth. However, Jeremy Bentham, of 'utilitarian fame' posited a prison Panopticon design for British prisons, called the panopticon. In essence it is based around one central watchtower with maximum visibility. Looking at the picture of the Eastern State Penitentiary, it reminds me of this - wikipedia confirms this.

Without fully rounded points on this, I am posting more as you may be interested especially in relation to forming an opinion on the construction.

Other possibilities could be workhouses in-line with foundling theories. Massive orphanages. I am not sure if you meant prisons for tartarians sarcastically or seriously, but I think it is a legitimate theory. Without knowledge of population levels, or knowledge of the nature of Tartaria, they could be former Tartarian prisons. Or even perhaps 'correction facilities' for survivors.
 

Moriarty

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I am not posting this for reasons of debating your point, or stating what I believe to be an objective truth. However, Jeremy Bentham, of 'utilitarian fame' posited a prison Panopticon design for British prisons, called the panopticon. In essence it is based around one central watchtower with maximum visibility. Looking at the picture of the Eastern State Penitentiary, it reminds me of this - wikipedia confirms this.

Without fully rounded points on this, I am posting more as you may be interested especially in relation to forming an opinion on the construction.

Other possibilities could be workhouses in-line with foundling theories. Massive orphanages. I am not sure if you meant prisons for tartarians sarcastically or seriously, but I think it is a legitimate theory. Without knowledge of population levels, or knowledge of the nature of Tartaria, they could be former Tartarian prisons. Or even perhaps 'correction facilities' for survivors.
My take on these US prisons are that the walls were originally there and then at a much later date the interior prison blocks were built with the spurs and the central watch office/tower

Wandsworth Prison in London has a very similar layout to the Eastern State Penitentiary when you consider just the interior element. I believe this was one of the first designs of this sort in the UK. The mysterious time period of the mid 19th century rears its head again. From wiki...

'The prison was built in 1851, when it was known as Surrey House of Correction.[2] It was designed according to the humane separate system principle: a number of corridorsradiate from a central control point with each prisoner having toilet facilities. The toilets were subsequently removed to increase prison capacity and the prisoners had to engage in the humiliating process of "slopping out", until 1996'
 

whitewave

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It makes more sense (to me) that they were originally designed as schools for children, separating either the different educational levels or disciplines or both. Maybe the kids started out in the wing closest to the door and learned reading and some other basics. Then they graduated to the next wing and learned another subject, progressing in succession through the various wings of the facility as they progressively increased in knowledge until finally making a complete circle, their education completed.
 

moriyah

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I must step up at this time, on this subject, to support the needs, not rights, of prisoners as they have no rights. None by church or state. None by heaven or hell. They have been cast to the winds.
People, all people, need the components which build and fuel their bodies. There is, there are, many vitamins and minerals, along with carbs, fats and proteins which are necessary for human sustenance and development. Our food system, and theirs, does not, did not, provide that. Thus we end with this, that, travesty.
Feed yourself, feed others, what you/they need to fuel your system.
Otherwise you will die sooner rather than later when you might live longer than any.
While I was resident of a federal country club bananas were the currency because of their potassium. Today I buy bananas and are very thankful for them. For the potassium, etc., but also for the reminder of those who have been essentially abandoned by our leaders who profit from their incarceration.
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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I have no idea what the above message supposed to mean in relation tonthe topic at hand.

How is it related to the architecture?
 

BrokenAgate

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With barely any people in the mid 19th century US, why were these prisons so big?
Planning for the future? The US has the highest incarceration rate of any country. Maybe certain men saw the use of these huge, old buildings early on.
 

Bear Claw

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My take on these US prisons are that the walls were originally there and then at a much later date the interior prison blocks were built with the spurs and the central watch office/tower

Wandsworth Prison in London has a very similar layout to the Eastern State Penitentiary when you consider just the interior element. I believe this was one of the first designs of this sort in the UK. The mysterious time period of the mid 19th century rears its head again. From wiki...

'The prison was built in 1851, when it was known as Surrey House of Correction.[2] It was designed according to the humane separate system principle: a number of corridorsradiate from a central control point with each prisoner having toilet facilities. The toilets were subsequently removed to increase prison capacity and the prisoners had to engage in the humiliating process of "slopping out", until 1996'
Yeah I had a friend that used to live right next to that prison to the point that people would go into the alley by her garden to throw drugs in. It is in a very strange location (although maybe not when it was made). It is literally on top of a public park, and right in the middle of a housing estate in yummy mummy land. Looking back I fully concur on the strangeness of its architecture.
 

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