A Day at Eastern State Penitentiary

Wow! What a windy night!  The wind just howled all night long.  It was howling when we went to bed and it was howling when we woke up!

And then it was breezy all day long, which made for a cold day of shooting.

Yesterday we got up bright and early.  Same time as a work day.  No Sleeping in!

One of the guys from the camera club was going to the Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP) in Philadelphia and invited Annette and me to go along.  So we got up early, met Tom in Carlisle and headed off to Philly!

The Easter State Penitentiary has a 142 year history dealing with criminals.  Opened in 1829, the prison was a new design that was intended to make the criminal become remorseful or repentant of his crime.  The way this was supposed to happen was through silence and solitary confinement.  This meant a separate cell with no contact with other cells.  Can you imagine going for 2-6 years in solitude without speaking?

This did not last very long due to the growing prison population, which led to over-crowding.  No more solitude!

Eventually the prison became more like modern day prisons with group meals and activities.

The prison eventually closed in 1971 and was left abandoned from 1972 to 1994.  Over two decades of neglect.  There are pictures on display now that show that nature took over the grounds and had made good progress towards making the prison a forest!

Now there is an Historical Society that is trying to preserve the site.  Some areas will be restored to the original state.  Other areas will be left in decay to show what happens with neglect.

But…..In the state it is in now, ESP is a photographer’s dream.
There are textures.
There are repeating patterns.
There are abandoned artifacts.
There is decay.
There are equipment passes available to allow tripods.
Such a visual feast!

Let me show you some of this.

The original building was meant to resemble a castle fortress and to intimidate prisoners.
Interestingly, there was only one way in and one way out; 
the Front Gate.

This cell was cleaned out to give a better idea of the size of the cell.

 I love to do detail shots.
The plaster on the walls just crumbled into dust.

 The long hall of the cell block.
Look at the repeating patterns!
 Another detail shot.
If you get a chance to go to ESP, grab it!