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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just visiting though. As part of my vacation at home, I went with some friends to visit Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

http://www.easternstate.org/

It was the first penitentiary built and opened in 1829 and closed in 1971. It's a very gothic looking structure, similar to a castle. It was based on a Quaker concept that if the prisoner could sit and contemplate his crime, he could realize the error of his way and repent and reform. To do that the prisoner was in solitary confinement for his entire sentence. As he came in he was hooded to be escorted to his cell. First as part of the solitary confinement piece, and secondly to prevent him from knowing the layout of the prison. At that point everything he did was alone. Each cell was for one man, and had it's own small exercise yard, so no interacting with other prisoners. A prisoner was in his cell 23 hours a day and in his exercise yard for an hour. No letters in or out, no books other than the bible. Prisoners were given jobs that they could do in their cell such as shoemaking or caning chairs. Anyway, after a time this concept was abandoned sometime in the late 1880's I think, partially because it cost a lot of money, took up a lot of space, and couldn't meet the demands of an increasing prisoner population; and it had a tendency to drive some people crazy (literally) with the constant solitary living.

Some famous "alumni" -- Al Capone and Willie Sutton

Yesterday was a good day to visit. There were not many people and we had alot of one-on-one time with our tour guide. In September, they start up a Halloween tour which is supposed to be absolutely fantastic. Another interesting thing is that our tour guide suggested we come back on Sunday which is Alumni day when former guards and prisoners come back to visit and talk about their time at ESP. Kind of interesting that they have these reunions.
 

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I would LOVE to go there on Halloween! How cool is that! :)
Thanks for the link, going to check it out now.
 

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Cool link!! Sounds like a fun little side trip! I used to be in lockup on a weekly basis myself, so we're in good company!!
 

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I've read some on that place, would visit it if I was in the area.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I think our guide told us Halloween tour tickets go on sale Sept 18 or 19. They are very popular and go fast. He said that there are lines around the prison to get in.

It was funny though, as he was bragging about their Halloween tours, he was kind of turning up his nose a bit at them. Says that it's pandemonium, etc. It probably is for the guides. I really think that he is a guide there for the history and architecture of the prison and kind of looks down on those who he feels don't have the proper reverence for the place. Regardless, I'd like to go on a Halloween tour too. ;)
 

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That's pretty creepy! I'm taking the virtual tour and you can move the camera around the entire room. :eek:
I'm getting haunted chills just looking at the pics. Especially Capone's cell and death row. Eeek.
 

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Jeanne, that sounds unbelievably cool!! I'll bet it was fascinating. Sounds like Alcatraz...we really enjoyed that tour. Oh, and a Halloween tour sounds AWESOME!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Connie,

It really was cool. The two friends that I was with were at Alcatraz in September and they thought Eastern State was better. ESP has a really good audio tour that is included in your entrance fee. My friends thought that was great. They also liked that you can wander around on your own and you don't have to go on a guided tour.

The penitentiary is in the Art Museum section of the city (five blocks from the Art Museum). It's really neat, you're driving though a typical neighborhood and all of sudden you see this giant gothic structure pop up out of nowhere. When they built it, it was a mile from the city but as the city grew, it grew right around the prison.
 

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OMG DONT GO!!!

We went when Jeffrey was 14 and took 3 of his friends. They were absolutely PETRIFIED. It was funny at first, to laugh at these teems trying to act so tough like it didnt bother them. But then, I got scared too. Then one of the boys started crying. And as 2 of them were mocking him for crying they got snatched by an "inmate" and one peed his pants. I'm not kidding. IT IS SCARY!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Oh Susan, thanks for the warning, but it's just something that I have to do. Besides, I have the best excuse. If I pee my pants, I'll claim it's menopause ;). Just one side benefit of growing older.
 

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I went there about 3 years ago and it scared the ever living crap out of me! :eek: I walked through one part with my eyes closed holding onto my husband until we got through it. It was a ton of fun!!
 

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now imagine it in Oct...pitch black with actors hired as inmates and mental patients(what that facility was then used for after the prison) wandering the grounds with one plan in mind..to SCARE you BAD
 

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WeHeartLabs said:
now imagine it in Oct...pitch black with actors hired as inmates and mental patients(what that facility was then used for after the prison) wandering the grounds with one plan in mind..to SCARE you BAD
Sorry-I was there for the Halloween stuff. Saying that would have explained why I was so scared I guess...DUH. The actors were great. Amazing that they could scare you so much without laying a finger on you. I don't know that I would go back as a guest, but I would LOVE to work as part of that cast. I love scaring people-LOL.
 
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