Out of Massachusetts: the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia

As a birthday gift to myself, I took a weekend trip to Philadelphia with Brian to visit my uncle, aunt and cousin, who I haven’t seen in about a year and a half. My uncle’s house is in the perfect location for all the things we wanted to see and do — everything was within a 30-minute walk. The first full day we were there, we visited the Eastern State Penitentiary. I’d been wanting to see it for a long time, ever since taking a class on prisons and related literature when I was in college. There’s a lot of history behind those walls; it was the first big prison built in the United States, was built slowly over a period of decades (with some sections even built using prisoner labor) and you can clearly see the differences in the ways different cell blocks we’re put together. The place was cold the day we visited, almost a veritable wind tunnel, which further demonstrates the conditions in which the prisoners lived as the structure didn’t have heat while it was operational.
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