Philadelphia, PA
Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary Reviews Summary

Rated 4.7 Star based on 1847 Reviews

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Published on
March 14, 2024
Last updated
March 14, 2024

What do customers think about Eastern State Penitentiary?

Eastern State Penitentiary has garnered a strong reputation for providing a compelling and thought-provoking historical experience. Reviews consistently praise the facility for its engaging tours, its preservation of history, and for the manner in which it encourages visitors to contemplate the broader implications and reforms of the prison system. A recurrent theme throughout the feedback is a sense of profound impact; the tours appear to leave a lasting impression on attendees regarding the conditions of incarceration, both historically and in contemporary times. Customers report a particular appreciation for the depth of information provided, especially through the audio tours narrated by notable personalities such as Steve Buscemi. The attraction's inclusion of art installations and exhibits on prison philosophy underlines its dual function as both a historical site and a venue for public education on social issues. The staff receives positive remarks for their friendliness, and the overall experience is amplified by the penitentiary's physical proximity to other Philadelphia attractions.

Positive Feedback

Key positive aspects of the Eastern State Penitentiary experience, as reflected in customer feedback, include the immersive and comprehensive nature of the tours, which are enhanced by the audio guides. The content of the tours resonates deeply with visitors, often exceeding expectations by offering educational insights on penal history, social reforms, and current issues in the justice system. Participants also find value in the 'hands-on history' segments that delve into areas of the prison not covered by standard tours. The tour guides, specifically mentioned for their exceptional service and knowledge, contribute to this positive experience. Moreover, the well-maintained museum and inclusivity of local artists' works within a historical context add to the attraction's appeal. Facilities like clean restrooms and the convenience of purchasing tickets in advance are noted as practical positives, as well as the site's accessibility and thoughtful integration of prison reform discussions into the exhibits.

Concerns and Threads

While Eastern State Penitentiary excels in many areas, some negative aspects of customer feedback highlight room for improvement. One recurrent criticism pertains to the audio devices provided for self-guided tours, which are described as outdated and cumbersome, potentially detracting from the visitor experience. Guests express a desire for a modernized system that utilizes personal devices and earphones. Furthermore, while the richness of the content is appreciated, some visitors feel the self-guided tour can be slow-paced, resulting in a longer-than-expected experience. This has been described as a 'SLOW crawl' if following along with the recorded tour. Additionally, the attraction's suitability for younger children is questioned as the tours are mostly informative with minimal entertainment value catered to that age group. Finally, concerns about parking, including the apprehension caused by permit-only residential streets and the cost of adjacent lots, have been raised by some visitors.

Frequently asked questions about Eastern State Penitentiary

Are there modern alternatives to the audio devices provided for the tour?

As of the latest reviews, the penitentiary provides traditional audio devices for the self-guided tour. Visitors have suggested updating this to an app or online guide for personal devices, but there have been no indications of such an option being currently available.

What are customers saying about Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary
Casandra Eagleman
4 months ago
This was our favorite tour while in Philadelphia. We were here during the day, which made it not as creepy to walk through as it would be at night. There was a very heavy feeling throughout the entire facility. We did not see or capture anything that would be considered paranormal, but there is definitely some energy that is felt. This was an amazing tour. Whether you are interested in the paranormal or just in history, this is a great place to visit!
Eastern State Penitentiary
Timothy Warlow Jr (Countdown Realty Team)
5 months ago
Definitely recommend coming by for the walking tour, audio provided by Steve Buscemi. The tour takes you through the history of the prison, life of the guards and inmates, and discusses some topics like solitary confinement, US modern prison system and the need for reform. Worth the price and will definitely give you a new perspective.
Eastern State Penitentiary
Jason Persaud
6 months ago
I saw this while looking up things to do in Philadelphia and immediately added it to the to-do list during one of my upcoming trips. I decided to go on an early Sunday afternoon. There is lots of street parking available in the immediate area...but its probably best to stick to the main streets (Fairmount and Corinthian Avenues...). Once you get into the side residential streets, the signs there mention "permit" which made me a bit nervous. I know some neighborhoods require residential permits to park on the streets and I didn't want to take the chance. Admission prices were $21 for adults and $17 for childen. Children under 6 are free. (Online prices...not sure if was more at the ticket window) After entering the front, you pick up your audio device. A small device with headphones that you can select various numbers marked throughout the penitentiary that will tell you a bit about that area or exhibit. I hope at some point, they would offer an app or online guide where you can use your own phone and earphones for this...the device provided is very dated and comes with wired over the head headphones which can get in the way if you are carrying items, a camera for example. The penitentiary itself was great. While the audio device was cumbersome at times, the information provided throughout the self-tour was impressive. It is very well-paced and guides you through the main areas before letting you know the formal tour is over and your are free to explore. There are many smaller areas and exhibits throughout the penitentiary with wonderful little details about prison life at that time. A must for any history or architect buff. One of the larger areas is the prison yard which leads into an indoor exhibit focusing on the impact of prison reform and overall effectiveness of the various prison philosophy. I like how they included something relevant to modern-times and its impact on today's society. It really stresse that we, as a nation, can do a lot better. I usually get through museums pretty quick...reading the exhibits while taking lots of photos. This took me about 2 hours to get through most of the areas. There were certain areas I was less interesting in that I didn't read or listen to the entire description. So give yourself time if you plan to see everything...also wear comfortable shoes as there is quite a bit of walking. There is a small gift shop toward the end of the tour with clothes, mugs, books...etc...what you'd expect to find in most gift shops. There is also a bathroom trailer as you exit...very clean actually. All staff I encountered were friendly and polite. As for children...some older children may be interested in the history and stories of the prison...but there really isn't much "to-do" for younger children. The entire tour is on one level throughout the cell blocks, prison yard and other sub-areas...there arent any stairs except for one view from the upper cell block level. The penitentiary is in walkable distance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rocky Statue and Steps and surrounding park. There are also some nice eating options along Fairmount Avenue which leads right into the park...not a bad idea to make a day trip to include the penitentiary, food stop and park.
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About Eastern State Penitentiary

Gothic-style prison-turned-attraction with tours of Al Capone's cell, exhibits & a haunted house.