Eastern State Penitentiary

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2027 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, USA
(215) 236-3300

Eastern State Penitentiary Philadelphia Reviews

WalterC WalterC
389 reviews
Worth getting off the beaten path Oct 07, 2012
Opened in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary was considered one of the first American prisons, and the one that other prisons modeled after. Considered state of the art during its time, as it did have running water, and was able to control room temperature. The prison closed in 1971, and later became an historical landmark and a museum.

Located in the Fairmount area, it is off the beaten path, being out of the way from all of the other attractions. Not too far from the Ben Franklin Parkway, but you may have to do some walking to get there. Not sure how to get there by public transportation, as I walked to there from the Franklin Institute, which took me about 30 minutes.

The prison itself, is very rundown, and has not been well-maintained over the years. But that also adds to the creepiness of the place, more so than Alcatraz (in San Francisco). There are artifacts, along with the jail cells, including the one that Capone stayed at.

Admission comes with an audioguide, which is informative enough to keep you interested. Keep in mind, there are no restrooms, just a few port-a-potties. Needless to say, those things can get very nasty.

Eastern State is worth checking out, if you have the time to see it. The only issue is getting to and from the place, into an area that does not look so good.
watch tower
prison cells
toilet in cell
inside one of the cells
7 / 7 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
WalterC says:
Yeah, getting off the theme park stuff for the time being. I will get back to it later on.
Posted on: Aug 16, 2013
rsvpme says:
Now..that is different ! A pen, a historical landmark...wow
Posted on: Aug 16, 2013
WalterC says:
I haven't but maybe I'll see them during Halloween!
Posted on: Aug 16, 2013
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fyrefly fyrefly
27 reviews
Eastern State Jun 20, 2010
Went there with a few of my friends and it was better than I expected. We got the audio tour (which is narrated by actor Steve Buscemi) and learned a lot about the history of the facility. The place is in a state of disrepair but that's what gives it the atmosphere and history that it has. The penitentiary also gives hourly guided tours that focus on different aspects of the prison.

A few of the cells contained some artistic displays, like paintings or rooms with televisions depicting prison life. My favourite art display were the "Ghost cats", sculptures of white cats as a tribute to the cats who frequented the facility after it closed in the 1970s.

It was a great place to visit and wasn't expensive ($10 for an adult, $8 with a student-ID), I recommend it as something different to see in Philadelphia.
Outside the penitentiary
Cell block
ghost cats
Prison cell
jamartin39 jamartin…
113 reviews
Eastern State Pen Jun 27, 2009
This is just one more amazing historic Location in Philly to explore. This prison is in a state of suspended decay, which just adds to the creepiness of it. One of the many haunted locations in Philly, it is said even Al Capone heard things. We took the self guided audio tour mainly for the fact I have trouble keeping up with groups. It took the three of us about 90 minutes to walk around the grounds, and see what life was like for prisoners back then. It’s not exactly little kid friendly in fact I don’t think they let children in under age 7 or 8, so if you don’t have small children, or if you are traveling with older children this place is a must see, I heard a guide say it gets just as many visits as Independence Hall.

Just a fun little note if anyone has seen the new Transformers movie Revenge of the fallen ESP was in this movie. It is where Bumblebee and the Twins take Sam, Mckayala, and Sam’s roommate after they leave the college.
The Entrance
One of the Cell Blocks
The Cell of Al Capone
2 / 2 TravBuddies found this review helpful/trustworthy
LaceyTyre LaceyTyre
18 reviews
ESP Oct 05, 2007
I thought Eastern State Penn was so cool!!! We took a guided audio tour throughout the jail during the day. Eastern State was one of the first jails in the country. It is built on a unique "wheel" concept that inspired other jails throughout the world. The first inmates of this jail were placed in true solitary confinement, meaning they had their own cell where they ate, slept, and worked in during their entire stay. Most inmates did not see nor speak to another person the entire time. Guards would wear wool socks on the outside of their shoes so the inmates could not hear them walking through the halls. When the inmates were being taken to their cells they went though the back way so they would not walk through the halls and see someone else. This solitary concept was very controversial at the time.

At night we did a haunted house tour that was pretty scary. They turned the jail into a haunted house and allowed the public to come through and tour it. It was voted one of the best haunted houses by AOL.

I can't even imagine all that history holds in those walls. Built in 1829 it's totally something to check out!!!
A long scary hallway.
A cell.
Death row.
mistyleatherneck mistylea…
67 reviews
I also went to Eastern State Penitentiary in Oct 2007. Al Capone had the nicest cell of all. There were pets for the inmates to include a dog named Skip and lots of cats that afforded the inmates an opportunity to at least have something to feed and give love to. The Eastern State Penitentiary was used up until the 1970's. So it is one of the oldest working prison systems up until this century. It house women at one time but the women eventually got moved to Muncy which is a different part of town due to the cohabitation in the system.

It was a well enjoyed self guided tour and ample time is needed to absorb everything.
Maja Maja
3 reviews
Jun 23, 2006
I was just in Philly, and just roaming around, when I passed by the ESP, and remembered it mentioned in my guidebook. I was fed up with old stuffy museums with art that I can see more of everywhere else. It's $9 and for that you also get anaudio-guide that covers everything, but in your own pace. There's also 1-2 free tours a day, but I was so caught up in the prison-life that I forgot to go on it. It's very diverse and has something for all tastes: old "ground-breaking" architecture, history,modern art (believe it or not) and ghost stories.

And it's close to Fairmont Park, so if you feel slightly depressed after the visit, you can enjoy the sunshine there, or go to the library 2 blocks down for free internet.
jarichter says:
Now you need to come to Chi-Town(Chicago) and peruse the land of Al Capone, modern day style!!!!!
Posted on: Aug 25, 2006

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