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“Eastern State Penitentiary”

Eastern State Penitentiary
Ranked #6 of 470 things to do in Philadelphia
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
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
Reviewed August 30, 2013

Very interesting place to visit. Nothing like it in the UK.
See cells where prisoners were kept and the hospital etc.
Lots of tour guides around to explain and describe the penitentiary.
A place you must visit when in Philadelphia.

Thank Cat544
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"audio tour"
in 998 reviews
"al capone's cell"
in 292 reviews
"haunted house"
in 177 reviews
"steve buscemi"
in 146 reviews
"cell blocks"
in 123 reviews
"own pace"
in 264 reviews
"solitary confinement"
in 89 reviews
"prison life"
in 84 reviews
"halloween season"
in 55 reviews
"operating room"
in 60 reviews
"porta potties"
in 68 reviews
"art installations"
in 63 reviews
"interesting place to visit"
in 48 reviews
"self guided"
in 120 reviews
"interesting history"
in 67 reviews
"two hours"
in 66 reviews
"across the street"
in 75 reviews

3,773 - 3,777 of 5,206 reviews

Reviewed August 28, 2013

We had already planned to visit & it being a stop on the open top hop on/off bus tour we used was great, we all enjoyed looking round, self guided with audio, big place & most of it is open for you to look around, reasonably priced & different.

Thank cheshirelad01
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 27, 2013

This was not on the list of primary activities for my family (me, husband and two boys 15 and 12), however we all agreed it was one on the best things we did while visiting Philly. The penitentiary offered an audio walking tour, narrated by Steve Buscemi. It was informative and interesting. The building itself was a sight to see... decrepit and crumbling, yet it projected a feeling so that you can imagine what it was like in it's working years.

1  Thank boxarain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 25, 2013

We have wanted to come and visit here for quite a wile now and went this week!! It was great!!! We spent most of the day here and didn't get to everything. Almost but missed one or two things. The self guided audio tour is very informative and its nice that you can skip around and do it at your own pace and direction. There are some live tours also that I would recommend doing. We did most of the ones offered and enjoyed them. We had a great day and learned a lot while there.

Thank jamieb2200
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed August 24, 2013

I've always been the one to drag my friends to random abandoned houses that I find. There's just something so fascinatingly eerie about them and I can never quite put my finger on it. Maybe it's the thought of long dead women in Victorian dresses hustling about the kitchen or the "what's in the basement" look that my friends give me or it's perhaps just the haunting silence and the artistic way wallpaper peels.

Regardless of what it is that draws me there, I just LOVE being in those places so you can imagine my excitement when I found out about Eastern State. It was somewhere that I could explore without worrying about trespassing, squatters or animal inhabitants.

My boyfriend and I spent roughly four hours here. We did the audio tour and some of the more interesting hands-on history tours (the punishment cells, soup alley and the operating room, of course!). I know I was beaming the whole time, snapping away at old doors and peeling paint. My boyfriend seemed to enjoy the audio tour and the historical element of the prison more than I did. Not to say that it wasn't fascinating, I just happen to be more historically geared toward hospitals and asylums.

I don't have kids, just younger siblings, but I wouldn't recommend taking kids under age 12. We saw some younger kids while on our tour and they were so loud we couldn't hear some of the audio tour and they were constantly being told not to touch that or climb there. (Paid) parking is just beside the prison and from the time we arrived to the time we left there were PLENTY of open spaces. I did think parking was a bit pricey ($8 for 2 hours!), but I'm from a small town in Virginia where we don't pay for parking. ;)

Oh, and they have a penny pusher machine available in the gift shop. You know, the ones that you put in a penny and two quarters, select your little design and crank it out until you get a smushed penny? Love those things. So make sure you've got some change, because that's really the only souvenir you'll want.

Thank LNLohr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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