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Eastern State Penitentiary

Certificate of Excellence
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Address: 2124 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130-2603
Phone Number:
+1 215-236-3300
10:00 - 17:00
Closed now
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Sun - Sat 10:00 - 17:00
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Fee: Yes

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site was once the most famous and...

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.

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TripAdvisor Reviewer Highlights

Read all 4,465 reviews
Visitor rating
  • 2793
  • 1072
    Very good
  • 170
  • 39
  • 25
Preserving History Both Good and Indifferent

The history that Eastern State has within its walls is not good or bad but indifferent. The penal system has been around for some time and this particular prison was a game... read more

Reviewed yesterday
Boston, Massachusetts
via mobile
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4,465 Reviews from our TripAdvisor Community

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Showing 4,099: English reviews
Boston, Massachusetts
Level Contributor
59 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed yesterday NEW via mobile

The history that Eastern State has within its walls is not good or bad but indifferent. The penal system has been around for some time and this particular prison was a game changer in its time. The preservation of the prison has been made throughout time to prevent further deterioration. The grounds are an immense area to cover and so... More 

Thank Angel_Travel_Bug
Brenham, TX
Level Contributor
78 reviews
17 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

It takes a good 2-3 hours to walk around and see everything. It's a great history lesson on the penitentiary system. Very informative and educational.

Thank Richard R
Bogota, Colombia
Level Contributor
85 reviews
44 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

It is worthy to have this space, emblematic as a penitentiary model, with a rich spaciality, nevertheless the approach from the curatoratorial team to the building is rather archaic. This space has an invaluable cultural potential, few block from the main museums of the city. There are other examples of how to do with historic buildings in contemporary times, like... More 

Thank German R
Laguna Niguel, California
Level Contributor
307 reviews
167 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 76 helpful votes
Reviewed 2 days ago NEW

Warning - there are a lot of stairs and didn't see a way around. It is interesting. I was on a self tour but the guides appeared good and I would suggest getting on one. They don't hand you a map however I would suggest getting on at the entrance so you can decide what you want to see and... More 

1 Thank Nothomemuch
Level Contributor
34 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 days ago NEW via mobile

We ended up spending nearly 3 hours here. The self guided tour itself along with various exhibits was really interesting and almost perfectly laid out and organised. It seems the people who have preserved the Penitentiary have done so as a labour of love and the care and deference shows. There was one particular exhibit about rising incarceration in the... More 

Thank BillyBloo
Level Contributor
14 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

This is a historic site with multiple floors and corridors inside and outside of the penitentiary. I have been here before, but I could not appreciate the history and features without a guided tour. The tours only happen during select times in the afternoon, but it's 10x better than the self-guided tour. The tour guides took you to additional locations... More 

Thank Robert W
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
42 reviews
29 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

I live near this prison and you really have to go for halloween. Book your tickets during the week while they are cheap and go just after dark. Make sure you opt to give them permission to touch you! Makes it so much scarier. First time I went, I clawed into my friend's shoulders and lost my credit card (might... More 

Thank renee3210
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 days ago NEW

I had done the haunted house before but had never taken the historical tour during the day. I was really impressed with the wealth of knowledge of the guide as well as the interesting tidbits that played into the haunted house at night. Everyone here does a great job at bringing this prison back to life in more ways than... More 

Thank SleepingInn321
Level Contributor
25 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 days ago NEW via mobile

We've been to the scary part during Halloween season and decided to check out the real history of the penitentiary. What exciting facts we found! Definitely a worthy tour, we spent a few hours there and learned so much about this esteemed prison.

Thank Sierra A
Level Contributor
38 reviews
12 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 days ago NEW

Visited the ESP with relatives, was not enthused at all. I was quite surprised by how interesting it was in many aspects. The History was great, quite enlightening. The architecture was amazing. From a photographer's view point there were many opportunities for great pics! We were there several hours and could really have toured longer! A must see if you... More 

Thank TessNarvon

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