Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

Photo courtesy of Eastern State Penitentiary for PHLCVB

Eastern State Penitentiary is a historic site located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The prison was founded in 1829. It was in use for 142 years, closing in 1971. At one time, the penitentiary was the most expensive building in the United States.

The Wagon wheel floor plan was the model used to reform criminals. This model focused on the strict isolation of the prisoners. There are 300 prisons over four continents that have since adopted this model. The location is also known for its grand architecture.

Your student group is sure to experience interesting sights while touring the facility. While here your group can participate in hands-on history demonstrations, interactive audio voice tours, and observing exhibits in the prison museums. There is a fun scavenger hunt that is also offered to students as part of the experience. Hands-on history tours involve group participation. They are offered in the regular season but can also be booked in the winter months. These demonstrations are shorter in length usually five minutes or less. One possible choice is for you to learn how to unlock an escape-proof iron cell door.

Fun Fact; the penitentiary has housed some famous prisoners including Willie Sutton and Al Capone. While touring the location your student group will be able to see Capone’s restored 19th-century cell, hear stories of inmate escapes, and marvel at the exquisite art installations.

If your group is visiting between the months of September and November you should consider a nighttime visit to Terror Behind the Walls, the spooky Halloween experience that transforms Eastern State Penitentiary into a living nightmare. Terror Behind the Walls is considered to be 'America's Largest Haunted House', with 6 total attractions inside the 10-acre abandon prison. Endure all 6 if you can, the attractions including Infirmary, Machine Shop, Lockdown, Breakout, Quarantine 4D, and Blood Yard.