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Holmesburg Prison

8215 Torresdale Ave, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA

  • Independent
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“a very dark part of America's penal past”

This place is on private property. Listing for informational purposes only. Please do not visit without express permission from the land owner. Holmesburg Prison is part of the City of Philadelphia Prison System. Built in 1896 and in continuous use until 1995. It was the site of a controversial decades-long dermatological, pharmaceutical, and biochemical weapons research projects involving testing on inmates, Holmesburg Prison is also notable for several major riots in the early 1970s as well as a report released in 1968 of the results of an extensive two-year investigation by the Offices of the Philadelphia Police Commissioner and the District Attorney of Philadelphia documenting hundreds of cases of the rape of inmates. The 1998 book Acres of Skin: Human Experiments at Holmesburg Prison, by Allen M. Hornblum, documents clinical non-therapeutic medical experiments on prison inmates at Holmesburg. "Between 1951 and 1974, various experiments were performed on inmates at the Holmesburg Prison in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania. A significant number of the Holmesburg Prison experiments were dermatologic, involving the benign use of commercial cosmetics and toiletries. However, others entailed hair transplants, implantation of foreign bodies, burns and radiation of the skin, exposure to dioxin, application and ingestion of toxic, near lethal doses of retinoin A, inoculation of Staphylococcus aureus, and the yanking out of fingernails.. And even though they consented to the experiments and were given some financial compensation, they now say that the long-term effects and suffering were never part of the bargain." The prison was the location for many of the scenes in the 1996 motion picture Up Close & Personal, the 1995 film Condition Red, the 2000 film Animal Factory, and the 2009 film Law Abiding Citizen. "The tortuous path of prison reform in Philadelphia, which led to closing the jails to new inmates on Wednesday, began with a bloody riot at Holmesburg Prison on July 4, 1970.The riot lasted three hours; 82 prisoners and 14 guards were injured. It took 500 police to restore order, but the city prison system was changed forever.The riot was blamed on a combination of racial tensions and dungeon-like conditions. Holmesburg, built in 1896 and declared obsolete in 1957, housed more than 1,300 prisoners, or more than twice as many as it was supposed to.In February 1971, five inmates filed a class-action suit to challenge conditions in the city's three prisons. The suit won the dramatic ruling a year later that confinement in any city jail was "cruel and unusual punishment" in violation of the U.S. Constitution." -http://articles.philly.com/1988-06-10/news/26267533_1_prison-system-prison-conditions-holmesburg-pri...

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Reviewed by
jessm1988

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
July 22, 2013

O_O

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
valerie.griffisstein

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
August 31, 2014

Do you have tours available for Photography groups?

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Holmesburg Prison

8215 Torresdale Ave
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
USA

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  • Pets Allowed
  • Restrooms
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair Accessible
  • Credit Cards Accepted
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