Friday, August 24, 2007


Ginger and I spent yesterday morning touring the Eastern State Penitentiary near our home. It costs $9 and we were given an audio listening device to guide us. It is a fascinating tour. The penitentiary was the first prison designed for the purpose of producing what its name indicates - penance. It was meant to be a humane system of producing repentance in the soul of the offender. Based on the Quaker belief that each person has an inner light which can come through if only given time for solitude, the prisoners were placed in cells where they had no contact, not only with the outside world, but from any other prisoner. They spent 23 hours in their cells and one hour in the small private courtyard connected to the cell. The prison was world-reknown and became the model for hundreds in Europe and S. America. Charles Dickens made a point of visiting it, but came away with the conclusion that it was a terrible model that fostered insanity and broken spirits.

Check it out sometime, and then go over behind the Art Museum to the WaterWorks Museum which gives a history of the waterworks which also was a major attraction.


Blogger s duggan said...

It is an amazing place, very interesting too. I went once about 12 years ago with Joel Garver to see an Art installation that they had done in some of the cells of works of art made by prisoners. At that time you had to wear hard hats for the tour and sign an injury waiver. Is that still the case or have they stabilized the facility by now. I haven't been to the waterworks yet. How kid friendly is it?

12:47 PM  
Blogger Bryan JL Glass said...

I worked at Eastern State Penitentiary for 5 years straight as a monster in their annual TERROR BEHIND THE WALLS fundraiser event. It was a lot of fun, and provided access tp portions of the facility not open to the general public on tours. The building itself is simply an amazing structure, and is definitely a worthwhile tour to take!

2:22 PM  
Blogger M Clark said...

No hardhats, but still the waiver. Be careful of monsters like Bryan jumping out!

2:39 PM  
Blogger Bryan JL Glass said...

I don't think I'll be there this year, as I have too many other exciting things brewing. I'll miss the fun of it all, however.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Joe Brydges said...

Glad you enjoyed the tour of my Alma Matter, Eastern State. I used that line many times when giving tours of Philadelphia. ESP is a favorite among the tourist and the TERROR BEHIND THE WALLS is always a great fund raiser. I could give you some little known facts about ESP sometime.

7:23 PM  
Blogger Bryan JL Glass said...

I would love to hear your ESP tales some time, Joe! :)

3:12 AM  
Blogger dori said...

I've taken my teen nephews and sons to ESP a few years back and they loved it. By the way, no child is admitted under 7 years old. My middle son and a friend saw TERROR BEHIND THE WALLS three years ago and my son still talks about it...fondly! Its not a tour for everyone...the friend got sick!
By the way...check out the ESP website ahead of your visit. I did and found a discount coupon towards admission to print out.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Joe Brydges said...

Did you know that because of ESP's close proximity to the "Fair Mount" which was the old water reservior and now home to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, that ESP had running water long before the White House? Also the area got its name because of this Mountain that Penn saw when surveying the area.

7:12 PM  

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