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“Love the Halloween Event” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary
2124 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19130
215 236 3300
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$72*
and up
Philadelphia CityPass
Ranked #4 of 555 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Tours today include the cellblocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capone’s Cell, and Death Row.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
Senior Contributor
28 reviews 28 reviews
7 attraction reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
90 helpful votes 90 helpful votes
“Love the Halloween Event”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2012

The history of this place makes the halloween show more spooky. It feels haunted, even during the day.

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Toronto, Canada
Top Contributor
57 reviews 57 reviews
26 attraction reviews
Reviews in 26 cities Reviews in 26 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
“Best Attraction in Philadelphia”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 12, 2012

This was the best thing we did in the city, the tour is fascinating. The jail has been perserved partially as a ruin and partially restored. The audio tour is really interesting and the employees are a wealth of additional informaiton.

Visited November 2012
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philadelphia, pa
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Majestic and historical”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 11, 2012

I love touring Eastern State Penitentiary and I see something new just about every time I do so. It's eerie and and fascinating to hear of the lives and crimes of prisoners who frequented those hallways. I hope that, with fundraising, they can restore more of it before it's too late! This is one of my favorite places in Philadelphia.

I will say, if you have allergies, you may want to go on a sunny day, rather than a damp rainy day. There is a lot of dust from the deterioration.

Visited September 2012
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Baltimore, Maryland
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
21 attraction reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Eerie and interesting”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 10, 2012

We visited on a cold and dreary day in December. The guided tour was excellent and the guide was able to explain the history of the penitentiary and have us imagine what life must have been like at the beginning and during the years when it became overcorwded. We were impressed with the tour.

Visited December 2012
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Top Contributor
208 reviews 208 reviews
69 attraction reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
963 helpful votes 963 helpful votes
“Significant & Sobering”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 8, 2012

While tourning an old prison may/should not be a lot of fun, this gloomy fortress-like relic is a sobering glimpse of what once were considered progressive policies of incarceration; so its preservation is significant - especially to those (like this reviewer) interested in prison reform. For example, the word peniterntiary comes from the word "penitent" which the Quakers, who established the prison, believed was best achieved by long periods of strict solitary confiement.

Whether via the audio tour, guided tour or on your own, visitors can learn a great deal about 19th & early 20th century history & culture by strolling the bleak grounds, walking the long dark stone corridors, peering into cells & attempting to imagine the horrors that took place there.

(After a visit, a good cafe across the street in a converted old firehouse was a good place to de-brief the tour & helped alleviate the gloom.)

Visited April 2012
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