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 currently open for daytime tours every day from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. We are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; a Guide-Led Tour and Discussion; Hands-On History experiences; critically-acclaimed artist installations; and award-winning exhibits.
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.
Welcome to the Conversation!
We believe in the open-minded exchange of ideas across diverse beliefs, cultures and experiences. We believe that dialogue—including respectful disagreement—encourages personal growth and collective learning.
We reject expressions of hate or intolerance, and value the dignity of all people who enter this site.
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.