Morgan Freeman

From Shawshank to Al Capone's cell, historic prisons captivate tourists

From Shawshank to Al Capone's cell, historic prisons captivate tourists

Independence Hall may be one of America’s top tourist attractions, but there was a time in Philadelphia when it played second fiddle to a prison.

A massive fortress that opened in 1829, Eastern State Penitentiary, then on the outskirts of the city, began admitting the curious not long after the convicts.

“In the 1830s and 1840s, you could buy a ticket and come visit Eastern State Penitentiary,” said Sean Kelley, director of interpretation and public programming at what is now a historic site.

“For a couple of years, it was more popular than Independence Hall,” Kelley added. “When Charles Dickens traveled to...

38°