PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadelphia’s Fairmount section, has a new interactive experience where visitors are handed the keys to unlock history.

Visitors can participate in the historic landmark’s Hands-On History experiences at 11 locations throughout the penitentiary led by an Eastern State tour guide. You’ll be handed the keys to the cells and  gates with intricate locking mechanisms.

eastern state key2 Visitors To Eastern State Unlock Secrets Of The Prison

(File photo provided by Eastern State Penitentiary)

George Hiltner knows a lot about prison security; he’s a technician for Graterford Prison.

He compared one of the gates to a bank vault’s door, “This gate has at least three points of locking and, if you are familiar with a bank vault, you’ll see at the edge of the door they’ll have a lot of pins that go into like the floor and ceiling and the side walls and this is a similar set-up.”

Hands-On History programs run every day through November 30 as part of the 2011 season and are included in the standard price of admission. for more information go to

Reported by John McDevitt, KYW Newsradio 1060

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