Willie Sutton arrived in Philadelphia as a public enemy in 1933, but he left as a folk hero in 1947.
The bank robber became famous for three daring prison breaks. Two of them happened in Philadelphia.
He tunneled out of maximum-security Eastern State on Fairmount Avenue in broad daylight in 1945. Two years later, in a blinding snowstorm, he climbed the three-story-high stone wall surrounding the maximum security Holmesburg Prison on Torresdale Avenue.
The bank robberies that got him into prison were as carefully planned as the jailbreaks that got him out.
One victim said watching one of Sutton’s robberies was like being at the movies, except the usher had a gun.