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Welcome to "Philadelphia's Most Historic Site" Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the fifth largest city in the United States.  Philadelphia is home to many historic sites and destinations including Independence Hall & Liberty Bell, Elfreth's Alley, and the Betsy Ross House & Memorial.  In fact, there is more history in one eight-block area of Philadelphia than in any other city in the United States.  However, many visitors and Philadelphians are unaware of one of the city's most historic and influential structures -- Eastern State Penitentiary.  Today, as a tourist attraction, Eastern State Penitentiary is now regaining some of the fame it once held as a revolutionary prison. 

Eastern State Penitentiary, which is located only four blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art, has been called Philadelphia's "most historic site" by Philadelphia Weekly.  In 1822, construction began on Eastern State Penitentiary's massive walls and soon became the biggest building project of the day and the most expensive building in the United States.  Eastern State's radical new prison philosophy based on the idea that isolation would promote penitence and lead to rehabilitation soon gained world wide interest.  People from around the world, including famous author Charles Dickens, traveled to Philadelphia to tour this new "penitentiary."   Eastern State Penitentiary's radial floor plan and revolutionary prison philosophy influenced, depending on the source, anywhere from 300 to 500 prisons world wide, some of which were built as late as the 1960's even after Eastern State Penitentiary abandoned the system named for it. 

Although Eastern State Penitentiary was closed in 1971, today, Eastern State continues to educate the thousands of tourists that enter its massive walls every year, not only about the penitentiary's history, but also its implications on the prison system as we know it today. 

For more information about Eastern State Penitentiary or to find out how to take a tour, please visit Eastern State Penitentiary's Official Web Page.


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