Eastern State Penitentiary

Visit one of the nation’s most storied--and frightening--prisons.

A Grim History

Visitors to Philadelphia may be surprised to encounter a giant, castle-like structure in the middle of the city. This fortress is none other than Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the nation’s most storied prisons. The penitentiary dates back to 1829, and it operated for 142 years, until its closure in 1971.

Famous Inmates and Halloween Scares

The founders of Eastern State originally wanted to spare inmates the horrors of public prisons. The penitentiary’s residents had luxuries like skylights in their cells, and even private toilets–but their captors also forced them to exist in total solitude and silence. Eventually Eastern State became a more typical prison, and it jailed notable criminals like Al Capone.

Today Eastern State Penitentiary offers visitors daily audio tours, as well as various historical and artistic exhibits. During the Halloween Season, the penitentiary transforms into the frightening Terror Behind the Walls Haunted House. But regardless of the month, visitors are likely to find the peeling walls of the penitentiary’s abandoned rooms quite scary indeed.