Awesome site. When I go to a new city, I try to see out unique things to do that I couldn't necessarily do at home. So, for my trip to Philadelphia, the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site was perfect for that. It is indeed unique. Locals and tourists alike will find it interesting.
The tour is about an hour long and I think cost us around $12.50 per person which is very reasonable.
One thing that I liked was that the tour guide gave SO much history about not only this prison, but the prison system in general and history of prisons at the time this one was most active. Despite the huge amount of information being given, the tour moved along at a good pace. Not too fast, not too slow. I also went in the winter when the group size wasn't too big (10 or so of us).
The site itself is as creepy as it looks in pictures. In a good way creepy. I like how they intentionally didn't "restore" the prison to its glory, but instead kept it for the most part in the condition from when they took over, but they did enough to make it safe for tours. It gives it a great feel, and you can really use your imagination to picture it as it was. They have great visual histories as you go along too (pictures and such). Apparently there is an audio tour by Steve Buscemi, who sounds perfect for it, but I would recommend the actual guided tour. You can ask questions and I just think having a human being (expert) tell you the history is a better way to experience it. The history is quite shocking and the insight you get into the history of the prison system in the US is jaw dropping.
Again, I went during the middle of winter and it was very very cold, but this did not upset my enjoyment of the tour at all. So go no matter what time of year. The staff is amazing and our tour guide was one of the best tour guides I have ever had.
So, very cool. Make it part of your sightseeing if you are visiting and still go too if you are a local.
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