ES Penitentiary can bring both excitement and apprehension

Alyssa Stencavage, Asst. Life Editor

Walking along in pitch black may seem like a pretty fun thing to do, until someone jumps out right in front of your face.
This is what one would experience at the Eastern State Penitentiary in downtown Philadelphia, one of the oldest and once the most famous and expensive prisons in the United States.
“That’s probably the creepiest part,” Student Development Activities Assistant Jamie Miller said. “They always find the people who scream the most and are the most scared, and will specifically target them. Yet they are the ones who usually have the most fun.”
Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, the ES Penitentiary was the world’s first true penitentiary, designed to inspire penitence in the hearts of convicts.
Students can take a trip to the ES Penitentiary on Friday, Nov. 2, if they are feeling brave enough. The tour is an hour-long, and the bus will arrive back to Wilkes by 11:30 p.m. or midnight.
While the idea of walking through the dark may seem like a scary one to some people, the prison has actually been modernized into different sections to give it a bit of a different taste. Tourists can be walking through what seems like actual parts of the jail and then suddenly come to parts that would not have been there in the original facet of the building.
“The cool part is that it was real, functioning jail cells,” Miller said. “It’s historic for holding some of the world’s most notorious criminals.”
Among some of these infamous inmates include Alphonse “Scarface” Capone, Victor “Babe” Andreoli, Morris “The Rabbi” Bolber, Joe Buzzard, Leo Callahan, Freda Frost, Clarence Alexander Rae, William Francis Sutton, Frederick Tenuto, Charles Yerkes and William “Blackie” Zupkoski.  This history and other information is available on
Those behind the scenes take one wing of the prison and turn it into a haunted house with such things as mirrors and lights, which one can go to in the fall.
But, visitors can also take a tour of the prison the way it originally was before the reconstruction.
Sharon Castano, student development coordinator, said she supports trying new events like this, even though she joked that trip is too scary for her.
Students can sign up at the information desk. Tickets are $10, which also covers the cost of the bus.