We were going to do some stuff around Baltimore yesterday, but Sandra had heard of the country’s oldest penitentiary being in Philadelphia, and it sounded really interesting, so off we went.
It’s called Eastern State Penitentiary. It was built in the early 1800′s as a way to help people who had done bad things to reflect on their lives and reform their ways. Originally, the idea was to keep them in total isolation and silence for the period of their sentence. It sounded like good intentions, but solitary confinement for a period of years? I don’t know how anyone survived the place! The philosophy of the penitentiary changed in later years.
There is an audio tour by Steve Buscemi which is really interesting and informative. There are also people who give mini-tours. I really enjoyed visiting and walking around.
A semi-restored hallway.
The place was opened in 1829 and closed in 1971. I couldn’t believe how long they used it! The rooms were tiny, and there is a lot of history there.
This room was cleaned up a little because it is the site of an attempted escape. See the hole in the wall to the left?
Everything is very crumbly. One of those tour guides said they wanted to make the penitentiary a “stabilized ruin”. There are parts of it that are completely collapsed. I don’t know how they will prevent it from turning into rubble unless they re-build parts of it.
This was a dining hall.
After the penitentiary, we had lunch at a restaurant called Zorbas. Mmm… the gyros were delicious!
The Philadelphia Museum of Art was in walking distance, so we went there. We didn’t have the time to go inside, but we did go up the famous steps in front. It’s where Rocky Balboa ran up the stairs in the movie. We ran up them, thinking it would be a fun and original idea. Once we got to the top, we saw lots of people doing the same thing. Oh well.
The art museum is a gigantic building. It was seriously huge.
These footprints were at the top of the steps.
One more stop in Philadelphia – the George Washington monument in front of the art gallery. It was a big statue, full of interesting imagery and weird animals. I didn’t get a single good picture. I did, however, notice that the Illuminati had been there. They left a marking on a nearby electrical meter.
It had been a long day, but we still had time and energy to stop at IKEA on the way home. After all, no visit to Baltimore is complete without a stop at IKEA.