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Eastern State Penitentiary from MTV's "Fear"

Eastern State Penitentiary from MTV's "Fear"


Eastern State Penitentiary, a crumbly old prison that was the site of an episode of MTV's spooky reality show "Fear".


Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA


Despite being a scaredy cat, I am a true crime fanatic and I regularly watch and read murdery things. So it was only somewhat surprising that I was into MTV's reality show "Fear", which ran for two seasons between 2000 and 2002. In the show, six regular people would be plunked into a spooky haunted location and would have to complete freaky missions and spend the whole night there; if they succeeded, they'd win a cash prize.


One of my favorite episodes was the one that took place in Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary.


Here's the episode (season one, episode seven) if you want to take a peek:

I was in Philadelphia recently and swung by ESP to take a self-guided audio tour (voiced by Steve Buscemi!).  My boyfriend says that this "was a fun tour because it was like listening to a podcast." There are various tour options, which you can check out here, including guided and group tours, but $14 will get you into the prison, where you can take the audio tour and wander around at your leisure. You'll want to spend a little while there taking photos and peeking into all the nooks and crannies you can.


In "Fear", the contestants have a hub in the Safe House and make treks out to the rotunda ("the hub of the prison") and into cellblocks 1 and 12:


This place was pretty creepy during the day so I can only imagine how creepy it must have been at night, in the dark, after being told it's probably haunted. Yikes.

In addition to "Fear", Eastern State has been used as a filming location in several films, including "12 Monkeys" and "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen". I definitely recommend taking the tour for both the filming location aspect and just general interesting-ness. And, honestly, it would be a really cool spot for a photoshoot - "life sentence" engagement shoot, anyone? Just kidding.


Written by Christina LeBlanc
Location photos by Christina LeBlanc and Aaron Morse

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