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About Eastern State

About Eastern State

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 criminals, 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 every day from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; Hands-On History interactive experiences; history exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. is a charitable nonprofit organization as described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Proceeds benefit preservation efforts at this National Historic Landmark. Thank you for your support!

Mission Statement

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. works to preserve and restore the architecture of Eastern State Penitentiary; to make the Penitentiary accessible to the public; to explain and interpret its complex history; to place current issues of corrections and justice in an historical framework; and to provide a public forum where these issues are discussed. While the interpretive program advocates no specific position on the state of the American justice system, the program is built on the belief that the problems facing Eastern State Penitentiary’s architects have not yet been solved, and that the issues these early prison reformers addressed remain of central importance to our nation.

Adopted by the Board of Directors, December 1999