Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, 2022 Season
April 6, 2022
Starting May 2, 2022, Eastern State Penitentiary will once again offer daytime tours seven days a week, year-round. The historic site’s popular evening program Night Tours: Summer Twilight will also return this year on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings from May 6 to September 4, 2022.
All programming (“The Voices of Eastern State” Audio Tour, Hands-On History experiences, artist installations, and exhibits) is included in one admission price. Additional programming (The Fair Chance Beer Garden and hands-on activities) is available exclusively during Night Tours: Summer Twilight.
Hours and Information
Tickets for daytime tours and Night Tours: Summer Twilight are available online at www.EasternState.org or at the door subject to availability. Admission is free for Eastern State members. Not recommended for children under the age of seven.
Daytime Tours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily, effective May 2, 2022. (Last entry is 4:00 p.m.) Closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.
Adults: $17 online, $19 at the door
Seniors: $15 online, $17 at the door
Students and Kids (7-12): $13 online, $15 at the door
Night Tours: Summer Twilight: 6:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Thursday through Sunday evenings from May 6 to September 4, 2022. (Last entry is 9:00 p.m.)
Thursdays and Sundays: $19 online, $20 at the door
Fridays: $24 online, $25 at the door
Saturdays: $29 online, $30 at the door
Included with Admission to Daytime Tours and to Night Tours: Summer Twilight
“The Voices of Eastern State” Audio Tour
Updated for 2022 with new narration by Steve Buscemi
This soundscape mixes dozens of voices – including three former wardens and 25 former guards and prisoners – creating an intimate walking tour of Eastern State’s cellblocks and yards. The main route includes 10 audio stops and lasts about 35 minutes. Additional stops provide visitors with more than two hours of content, including Death Row, the restored synagogue, and Al Capone’s Cell. Now featuring brand-new content narrated by actor Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire, Fargo, Armageddon).
Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration
The United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world by far, with 2.2 million individuals in prison or jail. This phenomenon has generally been driven by changes in laws, policing, and sentencing, not by changes in behavior. This interactive exhibit sheds light on these issues. It elicits personal connections, encourages reflection, supports dialogue, and suggests steps that visitors can take to help shape the evolution of the American criminal justice system moving forward. Prisons Today received the 2017 Excellence in Exhibitions award from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).
These short tours take place throughout the penitentiary, each lasting from five to 20 minutes. An Eastern State educator engages visitors by leading an activity, exploring a special topic, or sharing a space not otherwise open to the public. Current experiences include “Soup Alley,” “Hospital,” and “Catholic Chaplain’s Office.” Topics subject to change.
Eastern State Penitentiary welcomes one new artist to its artist installation program and continues to feature 13 returning visitor favorites. Artists are chosen for their ability to address Eastern State’s primary themes – including issues of crime and justice, architectural history, and the site’s fascinating past – with a memorable, thought-provoking approach.
Al Capone’s Cell
Al Capone got his first taste of prison life at Eastern State Penitentiary. He stopped in Philadelphia while traveling from Atlantic City back to his home in Chicago in May 1929. He was arrested outside a movie theater for carrying a concealed, unlicensed .38 caliber revolver. He spent eight months of his one-year sentence at Eastern State. Visitors today can see his recreated cell, designed to reflect how it likely appeared when Capone was incarcerated at Eastern State.
The Big Graph
Updated for 2022
This massive, three-dimensional bar graph sculpture illustrates the unprecedented growth in the United States’ incarceration rates since 1970. The United States leads the world by far in percentage of citizens behind bars. The graph also shows the racial breakdown of the American prison population in 1970 and today. In summer 2022, a new column will be added to The Big Graph, illustrating the rate of incarceration in America in 2020. Built to the scale of Eastern State’s walls, The Big Graph summarizes five decades of historic change in one striking object.
Alfred W. Fleisher Memorial Synagogue
Eastern State’s synagogue was almost certainly the first built in an American prison. Completed around 1924 and used continuously until the penitentiary closed in 1971, the space had fallen into near total ruin after the penitentiary’s abandonment. The synagogue marks the first truly restored space at Eastern State, faithfully returned to its appearance in 1959. A set of workshops next to the synagogue has been converted into The William Portner Memorial Exhibit on Jewish Life.
Exclusive to Night Tours: Summer Twilight:
The Fair Chance Beer Garden Featuring Triple Bottom Brewing Company
Located outdoors on the penitentiary’s baseball field, The Fair Chance Beer Garden offers a selection of Triple Bottom beer, soft drinks, and packaged snacks for purchase. The Fair Chance Beer Garden creates meaningful, living-wage jobs for people who may otherwise be excluded from the mainstream economy, including people who have experienced homelessness or incarceration.
Visitors are invited to reflect on Eastern State’s history and the legacy of criminal justice reform through hands-on activities such as trivia, letter-writing, poetry, and collaborative art projects. Eastern State will once again partner with local businesses and organizations to provide new opportunities for engagement throughout the summer. 2021 partners included Grant Blvd, Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Yoga 4 Philly, and TCRC Community Healing Center.
About Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site:
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.
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 held approximately 80,000 people during its 142 years of operation, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and “Scarface” Al Capone.
Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is open for tours year-round. Admission includes “The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi; award-winning exhibits; and a critically acclaimed series of artist installations. In recent years, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has been awarded the prestigious Excellence in Exhibitions award by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the nation’s highest award in exhibition development and design, for its exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration, as well as the Institutional Award for Special Achievement from the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and the Trustee Emeritus Award for Stewardship from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The Returning Citizens Tour Guide Project, which hires people who were formerly incarcerated to lead tours of the historic site, has won the EdCom Award for Innovation in Museum Education by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and has been featured internationally by such networks as the BBC and others. For more information, visit www.EasternState.org.
Eastern State’s Halloween fundraiser, Halloween Nights at Eastern State Penitentiary, provides major support for preservation projects, exhibits, artist installations, tours, and general operations. Grants from the following funders have also advanced the historic site’s progress and programs:
Recent historic preservation and infrastructure projects were supported in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program - Honorable Governors Tom Wolf and Tom Corbett.
Recent historic preservation projects were supported in part by The McLean Contributionship.
Eastern State receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
Eastern State’s general operations are supported by a grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In addition, recent conservation projects were supported in part by an Historical & Archival Records Care Grant, funded by PHMC.
Marketing support is financed in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development.
Eastern State’s general operations are also funded by the Independence Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Philadelphia Cultural Fund.