Penitentiary Trips

Philadelphia is rich with history for classes to explore while on their student adventure tour this summer, and some from unexpected places. After learning about Philly’s colonial-era history, student tour groups are invited to explore its criminal history at Eastern State Penitentiary. A spooky locale full of American history, Eastern State Penitentiary provides students and teachers with fresh perspectives in social studies, criminal justice, psychology, and sociology. If your educational trip group is looking for a unique and fun getaway and your students are open to being locked up, then Eastern State Penitentiary is worth a field trip!

Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829 and quickly became one of the most famous prisons in the world. The name Penitentiary was developed after the prison’s punishment system, which focused on spiritual reflection and an established penitent feeling amongst its inmates. The architecture of Eastern State, designed by John Haviland, was used as the model for 300 prisons constructed around the world in the 19th and 20th centuries. The prison closed in 1971, and has since become a historical site, art gallery, and even has been used as the backdrop for Hollywood films like 12 Monkeys and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.

Eastern State Penitentiary offers tours for student travel groups of every grade level. These tours will cover Eastern’s 142-year history, its groundbreaking and controversial reform system, what like in prison was like, and the lives of some of Eastern’s most notable inmates, which include Freda Frost, Willie Sutton, and Al Capone.

There is plenty to see-and-touch- at Eastern State Penitentiary this summer. Interactive experiences and demonstrations can be found throughout Eastern’s cellblocks, like the popular Italian sport of Bocce that inmates would play throughout within Eastern’s walls throughout the 20th century.

While on tour, students will stand in the cell where twelve inmates make a daring escape by creating a tunnel in 1945. Students and teachers can see the preserved hand-painted murals by inmates in the Chaplain’s office, and see the prison’s once state-of-the-art operating room. Students will also be able to step inside notorious criminal Al Capone’s cell where he stayed in and decorated during his first prison sentence in 1929. The Prison’s TowerCam! exhibit lets students into a reconstructed guard tower and gives them control of the high-definition cameras mounted five floors up, challenging students to locate buildings and landmarks throughout Eastern State.

Eastern State Penitentiary is a fun and incredibly interesting Philadelphia destination, offering class field trips with a unique learning opportunity and student adventure tour. Students should, of course, be mindful of their behavior within this architectural achievement lest they have locked up themselves! If your class is interested in taking a peek behind the bars and into the history of one of America’s most famous prisons on your tour through Philadelphia this summer- or any other Philadelphia location- contact 360 School Trips today.