Jul 16, 2009
Event features interactive activities for families along with actors recounting the conflicting tales of the 1945 tunnel escape
(Philadelphia, July 2009): Eastern State Penitentiary will host a Prison Break Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, August 1 and 2 from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm. The event, designed to commemorate some of the most famous prison breaks in American history, will feature interactive and educational family-friendly activities all weekend long. Visitors can hone their escape skills by climbing a 24 ft. inflatable rock wall or vote on which inmate is telling the truth about the 1945 tunnel escape at Eastern State.
As part of Prison Break Weekend, two actors - one portraying former inmate Clarence Klinedinst and one portraying bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton - will debate their conflicting accounts of who designed the escape tunnel, how it was built, and why the escapees got caught. Children and adults will get to vote on who they think is telling the truth. The winners will be announced on Monday, August 3 via the Eastern State website. The debate will take place half past each hour from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
The weekend event will also feature interactive and take-home activities for families surrounding the subject of prison escapes, including a scavenger hunt, crafts, and other kid-friendly educational activities. New for 2009, visitors can attempt their own prison break by climbing a 24 ft. inflatable rock wall, designed to simulate the famous 1923 escape of inmate Leo Callahan. With a handmade ladder built to scale the 30-ft. walls of the penitentiary, Callahan became the only inmate to ever truly escape Eastern State without being recaptured. All Prison Break activities are included in the price of standard admission.
Families with younger children can take part in the weekend event at the playground at 22nd & Brown Streets, located behind the penitentiary. These activities, geared to introduce families to Eastern State Penitentiary and its history, include a memory game and coloring activity, as well as a chalk re-creation of the underground tunnel built for the famous 1945 tunnel escape from Eastern State. The events at the playground are free and open to the public.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Eastern State Penitentiary 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. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America's most notorious criminals, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and Al Capone.
Tours today include the cellblocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capone's Cell, and Death Row. A critically-acclaimed series of artists' installations is free with admission. Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for students and children ages 7-12 (children under the age of 7 cannot be admitted to the site). The penitentiary is open every day, year round. From April 1 to November 30, admission includes the "Voices of Eastern State" audio tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi. Also included in admission are special guided tours on the subjects of daily life, escapes, prison uprisings, and artifacts. For more information and schedules, please call (215) 236-3300 or visit www.easternstate.org.