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Get Spooky with ‘Night Tours’ at Eastern State Penitentiary

Are your groups looking for a scare this fall season? They're in luck!

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has announced Night Tours, a self-guided experience featuring an audio tour, exhibits and large-scale projections throughout the historic prison complex. Night Tours will be available for a limited time only, running select nights from September 18 through November 15, 2020.

The event will replace the historic site's annual haunted attraction fundraiser, Terror Behind the Walls, for 2020. The popular Halloween tradition was suspended for the year due to social distancing requirements in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Although it was difficult to cancel what would have been our 30th season of Terror Behind the Walls, we are excited to offer smaller-scale evening tours that showcase the building in a new light," said Sean Kelley, Senior Vice President, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site. "At night, the cellblocks fall into darkness and the penitentiary takes on a different energy—its imposing architecture emphasized by dramatic lighting. Listening to the real voices of men and women who lived and worked here, watching silent movies from the prison projected onto the massive walls of the prison yard, is an eerie and evocative experience. We have never offered anything like this."

Night Tours visitors will explore the historic site using a modified version of "The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi and featuring the voices of former prisoners and correctional staff. The one-way route includes popular points of interest such as Al Capone's cell, Death Row, and the award-winning exhibit Prisons Today: Questions in the Age of Mass Incarceration.

Night Tours will also feature two large-scale video projections on the interior of the penitentiary's 30-foot-high perimeter walls. A silent film shot at Eastern State Penitentiary in 1929, with flickering images of prisoners in the mess halls and officers patrolling the corridors, will play in the Cellblock 3 courtyard. In the Cellblock 7 courtyard, 20 animated short films created by incarcerated artists for Eastern State's 2019 project Hidden Lives Illuminated will also be on view.

The lighting design for Night Tours will highlight the prison's iconic Gothic architecture, while searchlights will sweep from the guard towers over the cellblocks and yards, as they did when Eastern State was an active correctional facility.

The historic site's existing COVID-19 safety measures will be in effect for Night Tours, with staff and visitors ages 2 and older required to wear masks. Visitors must keep 6 feet of distance from others at all times and hand sanitizer will be available throughout the site. Those visiting will also be asked to sanitize their hands upon entry. To minimize person-to-person interaction, plexiglass barriers will separate visitors from staff and cash will not be accepted. Cleaning, particularly of high-touch surfaces, will be increased.

To learn more and purchase timed tickets online in advance, visit Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site.

Courtesy of Groups Today.

Photo courtesy of John Van Horn.


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