About Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary, previously known as the most prominent and expensive prison globally, with former inmates including Al Capone and “Slick Willie” Sutton, serves as a historical and educational landmark teaching guests about the United States' past and current criminal justice system.
Located in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, not only was Eastern State Penitentiary well known, it was also the earliest of its kind back in the 1800s. The building was proclaimed for its structural designs and the rigorous punishments that the inmates faced throughout their stay.
During the day, Eastern State Penitentiary offers an audio guided tour. This tour is included in the general admission price, and guests will be provided an MP3 player and headphones to learn more about the building’s history, inmates and cell blocks while touring the exhibits.
Eastern State has a variety of exhibits for guests to explore including former inmate Al Capone’s cell, Prisons Today and Jewish Life at Eastern State to name a few.
Al Capone stayed in the prison for eight months from 1929-1930 after being caught for carrying a lethal weapon in Philadelphia.
His cell was complete with furniture, oriental rugs and a radio.
The Prisons Today exhibit explores the United States’ current judicial system and provides guests with practical suggestions that they can implement on their own to change the future of the system.
The Jewish Life at Eastern State explores the prison’s synagogue that is believed to be the first ever constructed in a United States prison. While visiting, guests can also explore the display next door, The William Portner Memorial Exhibit on Jewish Life at Eastern State Penitentiary.
Virtual Group Tours
In place of in-person group tours due to COVID-19 restrictions, Eastern State is offering virtual tour sessions that can be done from anywhere led by the museum staff. Topics include the history of Eastern State, Past and Present of the Criminal Justice System, the Prohibition Era and Prison Structures Then Versus Now. Visit their website to learn more.
Night Tours: Summer Twilight
During the summer season from May to September, Eastern State offers night tours. Guests visiting during the evening hours are also able to tour the penitentiary identical to the daytime hours. Attractions specific to the evening sessions include applied programs to learn more about the museum’s history and judicial system.
Other attractions include The Fair Chance Beer Garden with select beers available for purchase. On Thursday and Friday nights, the Grant Blvd shop is on-site and available for guests to shop their sustainably produced clothes and jewelry. Learn more here.
Members Only Events
Eastern State also offers events exclusive to members. A few upcoming events include exploring the administrative offices, learning about 19th-century crimes and hearing the stories of families who were imprisoned at the penitentiary. Learn more here.
Each fall, Eastern State hosts an internationally renowned Halloween attraction, Terror Behind the Walls, that has been declared “One of America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions,” by The Travel Channel.
This year, the penitentiary is putting a twist on the Terror Behind the Walls and offering "Halloween Nights" for the first time. The various attractions include a haunted house machine shop, a delirium immersive walkthrough, a haunted house vampire crypt and an after dark tour to name a few. To learn more and reserve tickets, visit their website.
Visiting Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The penitentiary is open for daytime tours Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and is closed on major holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Visit their website for more information, to plan your visit and reserve tickets.
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