(Byberry Insane Asylum)
Both Sides of Roosevelt Blvd Between Poquessing Creek and Southampton Road
Status: Former Psychiatric Facility; Completely Demolished; Residential Properties and a State Park
Reader Discretion is Advised: There Are Depictions of Terrible Conditions and Brutal Mistreatment in a Facility Designed for the Care of the Mentally Ill in this Article.
This institution began as a small farm at this location that was used for the treatment of the mentally ill. In 1906 construction was began on a set of cottages on the property. In 1907 construction of the large buildings began and the facility was named the Byberry Mental Hospital.
When Byberry was first set up they had nothing but the best intentions and followed the teachings of Dr Benjamin Rush – one of America’s Founding Fathers (his signature is on the Declaration of Independence) and the Father of American Psychiatry – who believed mental illness could be treated and cured but the insane needed to kept separate from “normal” people until they were cured.
In 1936 the hospital was turned over to the State and became the Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry. As with many other similar institutions Byberry was built to relieve over population in other hospitals but it became overpopulated and under staffed itself. Unfortunately, Byberry – like nearby Pennhurst – became the epitome of the worst case of negligence and mistreatment.
During the Second World War people who were unable to fight due to personal, religious or spiritual reasons were employed in the psychiatric hospitals. One of these new employees blew the roof off of the truth of this facility when he took a series of photos of conditions inside. These photos would eventually make it to Life Magazine who would publish them in 1946 setting off a Nation-wide scandal.
Conditions were compared to the Nazi Death Camps with naked patients piled on top of each other in their own filth with a smell so strong it was described as taking on a life of it’s own. One particularly brutal treatment involved wrapping a wet towel around a patient’s neck and tightening it until they passed out resulting in a borderline psychotic but effective way of controlling the patient. It had the added bonus of leaving no marks so nothing could be found by the inspectors.
Things never change fast and when they do its not always for the right changes. Despite being at it’s highest level of population – over 7000 – Byberry began a series of downsizes in the 1960’s – resulting in worse patient care – with the ultimate goal of shutting it down.
In 1985 the site failed a State Inspection and was accused of misleading of the State Inspectors. Reports like keeping extremely violent patients in the Forensics Ward and removing a patient’s teeth without anesthetic made things even worse.
Cases of murder – including 2 orderlies who confessed to strangling a patient to death who were not only not punished but given pay raises - and sexual and other forms of assault reported were beyond count. One female patient was raped and murdered and another resident was found carrying her teeth.
In 1987 the hospital failed another State Inspection in which conditions were described as “atrocious” and after 2 patients who were released were both found drowned in the Delaware River the announcement that the facility was closing was finally made on December 7 of that year. In June of 1990 the hospital was finally closed with all patients and staff transferred to Norristown State Hospital.
The entire campus was left standing; citing asbestos issues. Within a few weeks people were breaking into the abandoned buildings stealing everything of any value. By 2003 – despite police patrols and security - the site was a disaster with every window smashed and covered in graffiti.
People living in the area complained to the City repeatedly finally resulting in the complete demolishment of the site by June of 2006. The former site is now covered by open land, a residential development called The Arbours at Eagle Pointe, Benjamin Rush State Park and soft industrial park.
Parts of the grounds of the State Park are said to be where the hospital cemetery was. We found no historical documentation that the remains were ever moved; although that isn’t proof that they weren’t.
Either way there are reports of apparitions running through the trees in the park, light anomalies and feelings of being followed by invisible presences.
While the old buildings were still standing the following was reported on site: apparitions of former patients and staff in the buildings and wandering the grounds; shadow figures including some that have become aggressive toward the living; hundreds of hours of video and audio evidence of paranormal activity; aggressive attacks toward the living including scratches and pushes; touches by unseen presences; objects moving their own; disembodied voices; phantom screams, yells, crying and laughter; electrical disturbances; phantom footsteps; light anomalies; empathic feelings of anger, fear, depression and overwhelming evil leading to physical symptoms of illness including nausea, vomiting and migraines and feelings of being followed, not being alone, being watched and not being wanted.
No in-depth investigations have been done of the new structures – residential or commercial – that we could find. There are a few reports of paranormal activity in the State Park – as written above – as well many reports of an uneasy feeling on what was the hospital grounds.
(Historic Site)(State Correctional Institute, Philadelphia)
2027 Fairmont Avenue
Status: Famous Historical Prison
This 11 acre site was opened October 25, 1879. It is considered the world’s first penitentiary; meaning it was based on prisoners being incarcerated separately. This is opposed to a system where prisoners were to work together in complete silence and physical punishment by the prison staff was encouraged. This prison would become the model for over 300 prisons worldwide.
The original cells were composed so that they only opened on a courtyard at the back of the cell with only a small slit was on the cellblock side that was small enough to only allow meals to be pushed through. This quickly proved to be an unusable design and full entrances in the cell block were constructed with metal doors and wooden doors on the outside to keep the noise down.
The doors were very short forcing the prisoners to stoop to get into their cells. There was a single glass skylight in each concrete cell letting the sun shine in. The purpose behind this seems to have been for the skylight to represent God’s eye and remind the prisoner that God is always watching. All of the cells included running water, a toilet – flushed twice a week by the guards remotely, and a hot water heating system.
Outside of the cell was a small exercise yard formed by high walls. Exercise time was strictly restricted so no side by side prisoners were ever allowed out at the same time making communication impossible. The prisoners were even allowed to keep pets in their personal exercise yard. If an inmate did need to be moved through the cell block a hood was put over his head to prevent any identification.
The original design called for one storey cell blocks but over crowding quickly became an issue so all cell blocks became two storeys after cellblock 3. By the time the last cellblocks were built both design and construction were by prisoners. The last cellblock (15) was for the worst of the worst; even guards were kept gated outside of it. In 1913 the solitary confinement program was abandoned due to over crowding.
Eventually physical punishment was used including spraying inmates with water during the winter months, leather chair restraint and chaining prisoners’ tongues to their wrists. Under cellblock 14 a solitary confinement cell was constructed where inmates could spend up to 2 weeks.
Many famous prisoners were incarcerated here, but the most famous – of course – is Al Capone.
The prison was closed in 1971 and left abandoned until 1988. In this period trees grew in the cell blocks and exercise yards and a colony of feral cats moved in. There were many redesign plans including a mall and condos but none moved beyond the dream state.
In 1988 the Eastern State Penitentiary Task Force persuaded the mayor to halt any and all redevelopment plans, and in 1994 the site was opened for historical tours.
Numerous reports of ghostly faces appearing out of nowhere. At least one report of one of these faces beckoning the witness toward it. A report of being held so tightly that movement was impossible. The same report includes a feeling of a terrible dark force rushing by them.
Shadow figures have been reported – some of them are said to slide along the walls.
Echoing disembodied voices and phantom laughter.
Apparitions of former guards have been seen in the old guard towers still watching over their prisoners.
Apparitions of former inmates and staff, unexplained mists, disembodied voices, feelings of dark energy, phantom sobs, cries and screaming, light anomalies, electrical disturbances, empathic sensations of negative emotions including anger, madness and fear, feelings of being watched, feelings of not being wanted, feelings of not being alone.
(Fort Island Battery)
6400 Hog Island Road
Status: Historical Fort: Paranormal Investigations Available
By <a href="//commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?title=User:Surfsupusa&action=edit&redlink=1" class="new" title="User:Surfsupusa (page does not exist)">Surfsupusa</a> - <span class="int-own-work" lang="en">Own work</span>, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link
Philadelphia was founded by Quakers who – for religious reasons – objected to war and military defense. Therefore, no defensive structures were constructed initially nor was any militia raised until Benjamin Franklin did so during King George’s War. The militia was disbanded immediately after the war.
In the 1750’s – due to escalating tensions in the colonial world – plans were drawn up for a fort on Mud Island to protect the city from attacks from the Delaware River but construction was not began.
In the early 1770’s Philadelphia was the largest and busiest British port in North America and it was thought a fort was needed to help direct ship traffic in and out of the port. Construction was begun in 1771; but at a snail’s pace.
With the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution following the fort was finally completed in 1776. Again, it took Benjamin Franklin to light the match under everyone’s asses for lack of a better phrase. Mifflin, with Fort Mercer, were designed to control the actions of the British Navy on the Delaware River.
The British took Philadelphia by land, though, in 1777 and laid siege to Mifflin. Part of the British attack was the largest bombardment in of the entire war. This bombardment killed 250 of the 400+ American soldiers holding the fort against over 2,000 British soldiers. In November of 1777 American forces were forced to evacuate the fort.
Although Fort Mifflin was rebuilt and refurbished many times over the 2+ centuries since it never saw military action again.
It was used as a prison in the Civil War for Confederate POWs, political prisoners and Union soldiers convicted of crimes such as desertion.
The fort was decommissioned in 1962 and ceded to Philadelphia; it is now used as an educational historic landmark. The US Army Corp of Engineers still maintain a base here making it the oldest operational US military fort in the Country.
The most famous (infamous) ghost of the fort is that of the faceless man. He is seen all over the fort.
Most agree this ghost is William H Howe; who is often portrayed as a psychotic murderer and evil spirit. In actual fact, Mr Howe was a Union marksman whose reputation was that of bravery. He contracted dysentery but did not leave the battlefield until the rest of his regiment left after their tent was burned down.
Howe was then confined to bed by a doctor. One night his enrolling officer – with 2 other men; all drunk – showed up at Howe’s house. Mr Howe fired 2 shots into the crowd to disperse them. Unfortunately, both shots struck the enrolling officer killing him. Howe was imprisoned in the infamous Eastern State Penitentiary while he awaited trial. Despite his pleads for leniency he was sentenced to death and executed at the fort.
A bag was put over his head before he was hung which is why his apparition is perceived as faceless.
A piercing woman’s scream rips through the fort morning, noon and night suddenly and unexpectedly.
Apparitions of soldier eternally cleaning their guns are often seen.
Other apparitions of the fort’s former residents are also seen in all areas of the fort grounds.
Disembodied voices are often heard including entire conversations. Light anomalies are frequently seen, photographed and video taped.
Other Activity: phantom smells; touches, pokes and prods by unseen presences; electrical disturbances; cold spots; unexplained noises and feelings of not being alone and being watched.
Philadelphia Shipyards (1943)
By U.S. Navy - U.S. Navy photo <a rel="nofollow" class="external autonumber" href="http://www.navsource.org/archives/06/images/173/0617305.jpg"></a> from <a rel="nofollow" class="external text" href="http://www.navsource.org/archives/06/173.htm">Navsource.org</a>, Public Domain, Link
The Philadelphia Experiment is alleged events that took place both in the summer and fall of 1943 by the US Navy and – by relation – the Federal Government of the United States of America. These experiments are widely considered false by mainstream media - the US Navy firmly denies they ever occurred – and have been relegated to the annals of urban legends and conspiracy theory.
This, of course, does not mean they never happened. After all had the Atomic Bomb never worked it too would have become another urban legend.
Essentially, the idea of the experiments was a direct application of Einstein’s unified field theory – allowing fundamental forces and elementary particles to exist as a single field – in combining electro-magnetism and gravity. The original thought was this could be used to make metal ships non-magnetic and; therefore immune to mines. 1943 being a time of war between the USA and Nazi Germany/Imperial Japan this would have been a huge victory for the US Navy.
The second experiment – based on what happened in the first one (more later) – was to render a ship cloaked – invisible to radar and possibly to human eye sight. Again, in a time of war this would be of great value to the US Navy and there is a theory that surrounding an object with large amounts of electro magnetism would render it invisible to the naked eye.
There are no truly reliable accounts of this experiment although one sailor Carlos Miguel Allende claimed to be on another US Naval Vessel and witnessed the teleportation of the vessel experimented on – the USS Eldridge (a destroyer escort). Allende wrote a letter to Morris K Jessup – who had recently published a book on UFO’s – with these claims.
However, the events did not gain major public attention until 1979 when Charles Berlitz – author of a famous book about the Bermuda Triangle – published a book about the incident. Berlitz’s book contained transcripts of interviews with – purportedly – the scientist supervising the experiment.
In 1984 a movie was also made about the events – in 2012 it was remade in a direct to video movie as well.
Experiment One – Summer 1943
The USS Eldridge was wrapped in electro-magnetic cable and it was turned on. The ship disappeared from view and was replaced by a greenish cloud. When the ship reappeared some of the sailors were said to have been fused with the deck plating including one man whose hand was completely buried in the steel deck. Other sailors had completely crazy and others complained of being nauseous.
Experiment Two – October 28, 1943
The Navy preformed another experiment – this one with the specific purpose of rendering a ship completely invisible to radar. Of military value absolutely but neither the Nazis nor the Japanese possessed radar technology at this point so one does wonder.
It does need to be said the Nazis were experimenting with anti-gravity at that time.
This time not only did the ship disappear from view but it teleported from one physical location to another and moved 10 minutes into the past. The other physical location has been reported both as the New York City and the Norfolk shipyards. It is in one of these locations – the sailor who reported seeing the Eldridge appearing and disappearing said it was New York – that the ship was seen by the entire crew of another US Naval vessel.
During this experiment sailors on board are reported to have, again, been fused with the deck, turned inside out and some had completely disappeared. The ones who disappeared may have moved forward in time – this was a large premise of the movies made about the event.
The biggest reason given for this all being a hoax is if the US Navy had found a way to move a ship through both time and space it would be of an astronomical military value. So why didn’t they continue the experiments? The loss of life and injury to American citizens would be the logical answer and preforming experiments using ships with no sailors would also be the logical answer.
Of course, had the Navy – or any branch of the US military/government - continued with these experiments there is no reason it would be revealed to the public. They may never have a found a safe way to do it or they may still be conducting the experiments.
As with all conspiracy theories the truth may never be known and that will keep them alive forever.