Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Eastern State Penitentiary

I am notorious for losing track of time.  Here we are in October and I am still catching up with summer...or was it spring?

Losing time is a bad trait to have these days when news and gadgets are rendered obsolete the next day, or even the next minute.  But, maybe it would have been a good trait to have 180 years ago when serving a life sentence at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.  Being a true penitentiary, Eastern State was a place for soul-searching and repentance.  There was no death penalty; punishment was absolute solitude, with 23 hours  a day spent alone in a cell and the remaining hour spent alone in an enclosed yard.  There were no books except the Bible.  With no one to talk to and only one thing to read, I imagine forgetting about time was an asset.

Here is a shot of the front gate, the last prisoners would ever see of the outside world.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Today, Eastern State is preserved as a ruin and museum.  Some parts of it were modernized (if that's the right word) in the early 20th century, but most of the original elements remain, like this cell door.

Eastern State Penitentiary

A cell block hallway...

Eastern State Penitentiary

A typical cell...not much room for anything in here.

Eastern State Penitentiary

A hallway in a more 'modern' section of the prison...

Eastern State Penitentiary

The only light in cells came through a skylight, so imagine how dark it would be in here at night, on cloudy days, and in winter.  This photo was taken on a bright summer day.

Real version...

Alone with one's thoughts...and all the time in the world to reflect on how it all could have been different...

Eastern State Penitentiary

See more photos here.