LOCATION: Philadelphia, PA
The Eastern State Penitentiary is a prison located in Philadelphia. It was used from 1829 to 1971 and is known as the most famous and expensive prison in the world. Today, it is a crumbled home to cellblocks, empty guard towers and ghostly history. From the outside it looks like a castle fort, but once inside it houses six corridors of cells, kitchens, hospitals and other various rooms to make a prison functional.
Once inside, you make it to the corridor center circle and can choose which passageways to go down. Some were blocked off, but a good majority of them were open so you could view inside the small cells. The prison was known for creating solitary isolation, which would cause inmates to go insane. The rooms were small cinderblock caves with minimal light and just a bed and toilet. I can see why people would go insane in this place. It is believed that the doors to the cells were small so it reduced the risk of prisoners trying to get out and attack a guard.
One famous prisoner here was Al Capone. I got to visit his cell in Alcatraz as well when I took a tour. You can read about my tour of that prison HERE. His cell here in PA was much nicer than what he got in San Francisco. He had furniture, a nice bed, a rug and even classical music choices whenever he wanted. Another interesting inmate there was Pep the dog. The Governor had this dog incarcerated with mug shots and a cell because Pep attacked and ate his cat. Seems a little much, but the cell was probably roomier than any cage the dog could be placed in.
The cells are also now home to some art installations, where some people showcase various weird things. There was a room covered in knitted furniture…why? I have no idea. However, the weirdest room was the random car put together in the cell. I probably could have done without the “art” aspect of the tour.
Another weird or I should say interesting part of the tour was the thankful board in the synagogue. The wall was made to give thanks for something you’ve done for someone that was nice or for appreciation of what someone has done for you. Lots of items on the wall suggested giving money to homeless, or helping someone in the yard. My favorite was a someone thanking their mom for “making coffee and eggs every morning.” Shows that it’s the little things in life we should be thankful for. I loved it!
The prison is also known for having a lot of paranormal activity and ghostly encounters. Several ghost shows have visited and reported sightings there, as well as local paranormal groups. Currently there are no active daily ghost tours of the prison, but they really should implement this. The jail does do a fall Halloween themed tour in the cells that seems like it would be worth it.
Overall, the prison was very interesting and gave you a more in depth tour inside the cells than I got at Alcatraz. Worthy of a bucket list look for sure.
* Thank you Troy for accompanying me on this adventure.
WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?: For a ghost tour yes, otherwise one time was plenty.
HOW TO DO THIS: Open daily 10-5. Adults are $14. Expect to be there at least 2 hours
The Halloween event: http://www.easternstate.org/halloween