Trace the footsteps of inmates, guards, and movie stars on this exclusive tour of a 160-year-old suburban Chicago prison. First, you’ll meet me outside the barbed-wire fence of Old Joliet Prison. Then, a docent from the Joliet Area Historical Museum will take you inside the former correctional center for a 90-minute walking tour that highlights the prison’s sally ports, cellblocks, chapel, yard, and solitary confinement cells. Finally, you’ll make your way to the gymnasium, where we will explore how Hollywood has incorporated Old Joliet Prison in films like The Blues Brothers and Derailed and the TV series Prison Break and Empire.
Built in the Gothic architectural style, it’s easy to see why Old Joliet Prison impressed people when it opened in 1858. But within 20 years, the correctional center was filled well past capacity, leading to unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Although people continually called for its closure, the prison housed offenders until the 21st century—including fictional inmates from several movies and television shows.
Hi. I’m Kelli, a member of the Atlas Obscura community.
After a 12-year career as a film professor, I began creating unique and informative movie-themed events in and around Chicago. I hold a Ph.D. in Humanities, an M.A. in English, and a B.A. in English. For fun, I run and walk local races, renovate my 90-year-old Chicago bungalow, and curate a Gene Kelly fan website.
For questions about this experience, please contact me directly through Airbnb.
• This walking tour, which covers approx. 1.25 miles, runs rain or shine; wear weather-appropriate clothing.
• Wear closed-toe shoes.
• Parking is available.
• Photography is encouraged!
• Participants must sign a waiver when they arrive at the prison.
Any experience can be canceled and fully refunded within 24 hours of purchase. See cancellation policy.
There are 60 spots available on this experience.
Guests ages 10 and up can attend.
This tour is not ADA-approved, but 70 percent of it is accessible for all patrons.