September 21, 2007. Our friends Rich and Penny Marzec told us about their visit to the prison in Philadelphia, PA and mentioned how interesting it was. We had to check it out.
We arrived around noon and had an excellent lunch across the street at Jack's Firehouse restaurant and then onto the self guided tour.
After paying the modest senior's fee, we were issued headphones and a special receiver. As we walked around, a sign would tell us to select another channel on the receiver and we would then hear detailed information about the area we were visiting. The receiver system worked great ! We also received a map so we could get our bearing on the lay of the land. It is a very large facility with lots of things to see.
The Penitentiary was laid out like the spokes of a wheel so guards could easily check out the status of all the prisoners from the central Hub guard station. Walking around, one couldn't help but get an eerie feeling about life in the prison back then.
Most of the prison was left to its decaying state for historic purposes, but several areas were restored to it's original state for comparison purposes.
One of it's famous inmates was Al Capone. He really got special treatment in his cell, with rugs, radio, furniture, paintings etc.. With all the bad things he did, Al got jail time for a concealed weapon in Philadelphia !!
Artist William Cromar recreated a cell from Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He compared the openness of GTMO with the closed walls of Eastern States.
Over the years, the prison was expanded including a second story tier. Paddy and I spent a couple of hours on our tour and found it most interesting and informative.