Skip to main content
Select Source:

Sing Sing

SING SING

SING SING is the familiar name of New York State's notorious prison, located at Ossining on the Hudson River north of New York City. The description of imprisonment as being "sent up the river" originated there. Sing Sing was constructed in the 1820s by inmate labor under the direction of the first warden, Elan Lynds. Initially the institution operated under the "silent" system. By night prisoners were confined to single-occupancy cells of less than thirty square feet. By day they worked together quarrying stone. They were required to remain silent at all times. When they moved about, they marched in lockstep with their eyes downcast. They were brutally whipped for any transgression.

The "silent" system was abolished at the end of the nineteenth century. In the 1930s Sing Sing provided the model for gangster movies, which created vivid imagery of the harsh prison culture. New York's electric chair was located at Sing Sing, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg were executed there in 1953.

Sing Sing remains a maximum-security prison for violent offenders. Most of the original structure has been replaced, but the first cell block is preserved and is listed in the National Registry of Historic Sites.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Conover, Ted. Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing. New York: Random House, 2000.

Lewis, W. David. From Newgate to Dannemora: The Rise of the Penitentiary in New York, 1796–1848. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1965.

LarryYackle

See alsoPrisons and Prison Reform .

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sing Sing." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 May. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sing Sing." Dictionary of American History. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sing-sing

"Sing Sing." Dictionary of American History. . Retrieved May 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sing-sing

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Sing Sing

Sing Sing a New York State prison, built in 1825–8 at Ossining village on the Hudson River and formerly notorious for its severe discipline.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sing Sing." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 May. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sing Sing." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sing-sing

"Sing Sing." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved May 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/sing-sing

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Sing Sing

Sing Sing: see Ossining, N.Y.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Sing Sing." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 May. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Sing Sing." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (May 22, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sing-sing

"Sing Sing." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved May 22, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sing-sing

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.