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Old Joliet Prison: When Convicts Wore Stripes (Landmarks)

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In 1857, convicts began breaking rock to build the walls of the Illinois State penitentiary at Joliet, the prison that would later confine them. For a century and a half, thousands of men and women were sentenced to do time in this historic, castle-like fortress on Collins Street. Its bakery fed victims of the Great Chicago Fire, and its locks frustrated pickpockets from t In 1857, convicts began breaking rock to build the walls of the Illinois State penitentiary at Joliet, the prison that would later confine them. For a century and a half, thousands of men and women were sentenced to do time in this historic, castle-like fortress on Collins Street. Its bakery fed victims of the Great Chicago Fire, and its locks frustrated pickpockets from the world's fair. Even newspaper-selling sensations like the Lambeth Poisoner, the Haymarket Anarchists, the Marcus Train Robbers and Fainting Bertha became numbers once they passed through the gates. Author Amy Steidinger recovers stories of lunatics and lawmen, counterfeiters and call girls, grave robbers and politicians.


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In 1857, convicts began breaking rock to build the walls of the Illinois State penitentiary at Joliet, the prison that would later confine them. For a century and a half, thousands of men and women were sentenced to do time in this historic, castle-like fortress on Collins Street. Its bakery fed victims of the Great Chicago Fire, and its locks frustrated pickpockets from t In 1857, convicts began breaking rock to build the walls of the Illinois State penitentiary at Joliet, the prison that would later confine them. For a century and a half, thousands of men and women were sentenced to do time in this historic, castle-like fortress on Collins Street. Its bakery fed victims of the Great Chicago Fire, and its locks frustrated pickpockets from the world's fair. Even newspaper-selling sensations like the Lambeth Poisoner, the Haymarket Anarchists, the Marcus Train Robbers and Fainting Bertha became numbers once they passed through the gates. Author Amy Steidinger recovers stories of lunatics and lawmen, counterfeiters and call girls, grave robbers and politicians.

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