Eastern State Penitentiary

by Audrey Lee

Oct 9, 2018

Credit: Audrey Lee

Trends / History

More than 180 years ago, Eastern State Penitentiary was designed to be a model for future prisons around the world. Its architecture looks like a castle from the outside, but the inside was planned to help guards keep an eye on every single prisoner and to house everything they may need, like a hospital, kitchen, barber shop, rooms of worship and community showers. The building had running water and central heating before the White House, which attracted visitors from around the world.

Some of the most notable inmates housed here were Al Capone and William Francis Sutton. A lesser-known prisoner was Pep the Black Labrador, allegedly imprisoned for killing Governor Gifford Pinchot’s cat. Although that story may not be true, the dog has become a mascot for the prison.

The building gives off very eerie vibes, with paint peeling off the walls and rusty debris in almost every cell. During the Halloween season, the penitentiary becomes a haunted attraction drawing in thousands of visitors. Terror Behind the Walls has ranked among the top haunted attractions across the country every year.

With six attractions including the new infirmary ward, visitors are sure to get a good scare. Thrill-seekers can choose an immersive experience that gives the okay to the actors to grab, hold back and send visitors down hidden passageways away from their friends temporarily. Prices start at $19 for all six attractions but vary depending on the date.

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