Home > Imprisonment > Al Capone’s Cell

Al Capone’s Cell

June 6, 2011

by Don Schroder

Al Capone's Cell by Don Schroder
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
(click on image to see a larger version)

 

Don Schroder is an Allentown, Pennsylvania-based travel and nature photographer. Whether shooting macro, telephoto or wide angle, Don tries to find the perspectives that capture not only the beauty of the surroundings but also the essence. When the two fall into place is when he is most satisfied with the image. To see more of his work, visit donschroder.com. Contact him for custom ink-jet prints in varying sizes.

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  1. June 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Wow, it has such a cave-like appearance and yet is furnished so opulently. The lighting is marvelous.

  2. Ann
    June 6, 2011 at 5:49 pm

    I love this one. The high life…

  3. Roberta Burnett
    June 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    The elegance and sumptuousness of this cell is startling and so gratifying to the senses. Is this a verified residence of Al Capone? Why would the feds give him such a space? That alone is amazing –and improbable. Impossible today–uh. . . or was Martha Stewart, for instance, given a nice home like this one in the upper class joint she served time in? Just curious.

    • June 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm

      There’s another photo of the same cell in the Wikipedia article on Al Capone. And here’s an article on the Eastern State Penetentiary that mentions his residence there.

      • Roberta Burnett
        June 7, 2011 at 6:42 pm

        Ah, it took a while, but here’s what I found:

        http://www.easternstate.org/learn/timeline

        1929-1930
        Chicago gangster Al Capone spends eight months at Eastern State Penitentiary. The Philadelphia Bulletin snapped this photo (left) as Capone was led away.
        An article in the Philadelphia Public Ledger, August 20, 1929, describes Capone’s cell: “The whole room was suffused in the glow of a desk lamp which stood on a polished desk…. On the once-grim walls of the penal chamber hung tasteful paintings, and the strains of a waltz were being emitted by a powerful cabinet radio receiver of handsome design and fine finish…” (See 2000 for a picture of the restored cell).

        I bet Alcatraz wasn’t so comfortable. I still wonder why they allowed him these pleasures.

  4. June 8, 2011 at 8:48 am

    The glow of the light in this photograph was so soft I thought it was a painting. The juxtaposition between the creature comforts and the barrenness of the cell itself is striking. Excellent work, Don.

    -Nicole

  5. June 8, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Thank you everyone for the comments regarding my photo of Al Capone’s Cell. He clearly had very good connections with the warden and staff. Originally, the prison’s vaulted, sky-lit cell (representing light from heaven), a bedside bible (representing the Word of God) and many years of “honest” work were supposed to lead to penitence (hence, the word penitentiary). It didn’t quite work out that way for Mr. Capone.
    Thanks again,
    Don

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