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 prisoners. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America's most notorious lawbreakers, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and Al Capone.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The penitentiary is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Tickets must be purchased online in advance. Visitors will select a 30-minute timed entry window, subject to availability.
Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; our award winning exhibits on mass incarceration, The Big Graph and Prisons Today; history exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.
Who We Are
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. is a charitable nonprofit organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
What We Do (Our Mission)
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site interprets the legacy of American criminal justice reform, from the nation’s founding through to the present day, within the long-abandoned cellblocks of the nation’s most historic prison.
- Adopted by the Board of Directors, June 2017
Why We Do It (Our Vision)
Eastern State Penitentiary’s innovative preservation, interpretation, and public programs will move visitors to engage in dialogue and deepen the national conversation about criminal justice.
A Ten-Year Strategic Plan
We are at a crossroads. Having addressed most of the stabilization and programmatic challenges that faced the organization 20 years ago, the time has come for a new, more ambitious vision. We have rewritten our mission statement to embody our new vision, and created an ambitious Strategic Plan for the infrastructure and visitor amenities necessary to realize this site’s extraordinary potential. The Executive Summary is available for download here.