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Eastern State Penitentiary

Ever wondered how an expensive prison looks like? The Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia was considered as such where famous prisoners were held. Now left with just ruins of the past, this penitentiary offers exhibitions and tours for curious individuals.

Audio Tour

Each of the guests is given an mp3 player with headphones where the history of the place is being narrated. They can hear an actual walking tour of wardens, and inmates alike, so the guests can have the “feel” of being inside a prison cell.


Al Capone Cell. One of the most interesting parts of the penitentiary is the section where famous personalities were detained. One of whom is Al Capone’s prison cell. It was believed that “Scarface” got special treatment during his seven-month term. Inside his cell were expensive paintings and furniture. He even had a radio so he could listen to his favorite waltzes.

Murals of the Chaplains Office. This special space built in the 1880s was filled with murals made by an inmate named Lester Smith after the invitation of Warden Michael Cassidy. One of the striking murals is the kneeling prisoner begging for his absolution. After its conservation in 2014, that particular mural remains and is a testimony that prisoners can still turn their life around.

Jewish Life.

The synagogue in the Eastern State Penitentiary was considered to be the very first in the history of American prisons. It was built for Jewish inmates to continue to practice their faith even if they are prisoners. After some severe damage it has incurred over the years, the synagogue was fully restored. However. they left the narrow kitchen untouched for the visitors to have a peek on how it looked like before it was restored.

Hidden Lives Illuminated

It offers animated films made by present prisoners. Aside from the 20 films, community participation by elected officers, scholars. victims’ advocates and activists are also shown. Guests are also encouraged to join the discussion after viewing. They are asked about their take on issues such as criminal and social justice.

The Big Graph

Visitors of the Eastern State Penitentiary will be in awe of the site of 16-foot-tall plate steel that shows three sets of statistics. From the south, you can see the rate of U.S. incarceration since 1990. There are also statistics on different races that are currently imprisoned, as well as every nation in the world and their current incarceration rate.

Prison Today.

It is the new exhibit at the Eastern State Penitentiary giving light to the current statistics that America has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. It is the Eastern State goal to open the people’s eyes to the justice system and how it affects the community as a whole, especially the poor and people of color who are currently residing in the U.S. They encourage visitors to share their views and opinion regarding this matter that will hopefully lead to awareness.

Art Installation.

The Eastern State Penitentiary is also home to talented artists. There are currently 100 artists who rendered their expertise. From digital installation to a curtain of knotted shoelaces, this section of the penitentiary should be on your list.

Night Tours: Summer Twilight

You may prefer to come and visit the penitentiary at night. Well, guess what? They have night admissions and you can avail the same services and activities as the day tourists. Plus the fact that it is more interesting to look at the digitally installed mural, Memes of Consciousness: Where Beauty Intervenes, by Andrea Walls.

Friends can hang outside in The Fair Chance Beer Garden after the tour with Triple Bottom Beer selections. They also have stores where tourists can buy souvenirs such as posters, books, home decors, magnets, and toys. They also offer membership with perks such as an unlimited pass to the day tour admission, a 20% discount at the museum store, free photography pass, and an express admission line, among others.

The Eastern State Penitentiary is not operating only to give amusements to visitors but most importantly, to bring awareness of the current situation of the social and criminal justice of the country. It calls for people to voice out and be active catalysts of change.

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