Eastern State Penitentiary
Philadelphia Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
Eastern State Pen. I don't even know where to begin. There are no words to describe all the feelings of walking through this prison. It was scary, sad, heartbreaking, tortured, crazy, lonely, old, and unlike anything I've ever seen before. This prison even had running water before the white house!
Designed by John Haviland and opened in 1829, Eastern State is considered to be the world's first true penitentiary. Its revolutionary system of incarceration, dubbed the Pennsylvania System, originated and encouraged solitary confinement as a form of rehabilitation. It was widely believed (then and now) to have caused significant mental illness among its prisoners due to its solitary confinement. The Penitentiary was intended not simply to punish, but to move the criminal toward spiritual reflection and change.
Today, the Eastern State Penitentiary operates as a museum and historic site, open from April 1 through November 30. The facility has been kept in "preserved ruin," meaning that no significant attempts have been made for renovations or upkeep. Guests are asked to sign a liability waiver due to some minor safety concerns. - Wikipedia
We did the audio tour which was narrated by Tony Sopranos' cousin Tony from the Sopranos. It told the history of the prison and even had comments from former inmates/guards. We saw Al Capone's old cell, where he did a little less than a year sentence.
We came back in the night time to go through a Haunted House. During Oct they turn the prison into a haunted house. Very cool. I'm really glad we decided to do both the haunted tour and the daytime tour. If you have a chance to get out to Philly and see Eastern State I highly suggest you do.
We decided to take a double decker bus tour around the city. For about $25 per person it's a 24 hour pass that has about 15 different stops to get on/off, the tour guides are humerous and knowledgeable. We drove by numerous land marks and got off at Eastern State Pennitentary. We didn't realize that we wouldn't have enough time to do everything.
Before we boarded the bus we walked around the Independence Hall visitors center. We saw the site of George Washington's house and a couple folks dressed up in old attire.
The first place we got off was the Reading Terminal Market. The market held all the things that I miss so much from PA. They had Amish gifts, bakeries, specialty bakeries, and best of all cheese steaks. We got a cheese steak from Spataro's with everything on it. Onions, mushrooms, peppers, american cheese, mayo, mustard, and ketchup. It was soooo good. I told my husband that 1 will be too big for me and I won't be able to eat the whole thing. Crazy enough I did eat the whole thing because it was so good.
We drove by many different landmarks. We saw the Art Museum, Rodins museum, Betsy Ross' house, Philly Zoo, and the next place that we stopped and got off, Eastern State Penitentiary.
"Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy" - Benjamin Franklin
Standing in the frame of where Ben Franklin once lived was awesome. The house and Bens print shop has since been torn down but a mock frame has taken their place. The original foundation is still in place and covered up with plexus glass, but still very visible to public viewing. Describtions of his house are intact and his house was surprisingly modern for his time. The foundation under the house was slanted and allowed waste to drain into a privy at the side of the house. He had a basis for "running sewer" without pipes. It's very interesting and cool to imagine.