Skip to main content

Eastern State Penitentiary


In some parts of the Penitentiary, the energy is really heavy … ”

An imposing, castle-like building, the Eastern State Penitentiary inflicted intense suffering and psychological trauma.

Eastern State opened in 1829 and was operational until 1971.

It held the title of being the United State’s most expensive and largest public structure – and was pretty advanced for the time with its flushing toilets, running water and central heating.

Its design was also groundbreaking; it was built around a central section where guards could watch over seven cellblocks from the one location. This became known as the Pennsylvania System or Separate System.

While controversial, it was used as the model for more than 300 prisons around the world.

A very famous resident

Alphonse “Scarface” Capone got his first taste of prison life at the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

According to Eastern State historical records, Capone had stopped in Philadelphia while traveling from Atlantic City back to his home in Chicago in May, 1929 and was arrested outside a movie theatre for carrying a concealed, unlicensed .38 caliber revolver.

The Philadelphia courts were tough and handed Capone the maximum sentence: one year in prison.

He served seven months of that sentence in this cell. But while the Philadelphia courts tried to make an example of Chicago’s famous bootlegger, the officials at Eastern State Penitentiary were pretty nice to Al Capone.

Al Capone’s Cell is on view during all public tour hours.

Notoriously haunted

Fellow Aussie paranormal team Amy’s Crypt also visited the Penitentiary, and had this to say:

 “A sordid, dark past paired with the frequent and extreme unexplainable occurrences make Eastern State Penitentiary one of the most haunted places in the world. Stories recounted by strangers with similar experiences lend weight to the legitimacy of paranormal encounters. While the building’s relationship with death through murder, suicide and disease ensures the likelihood of trapped spirits within Eastern State.”

A place of intense suffering, the Eastern State Penitentiary has attracted paranormal investigators from all over the world.

Unfortunately for investigators, paranormal tours have ceased for the time being, but you can still visit the Pen for a self-guided audio day tour, and it’s fantastic!

Narrated by Steve Buscemi, the tour leads you all over the public area of the Penitentiary, and gives some amazing insights into how it was run and some of its residents. There’s even interviews by some of the former inmates there, which are just incredible.
There’s also displays along the walls throughout, and some cells have been preserved while others have been left to degrade or be taken over by the vegetation.

In some parts of the Penitentiary, the energy is really heavy, but for the most part, it’s just a really cool look into one of the most notorious penitentiary’s left standing in the US.

Want to visit?

If you want to visit the Eastern State Penitentiary, available tours and times are listed on their website,


Andrea is the founder of Hallozween and a paranormal enthusiast who has visited locations all over the world.


Andrea is the founder of Hallozween and a paranormal enthusiast who has visited locations all over the world.

Subscribe now