(pic courtesy of Krissie)
My alarm went off at 5:35 AM that morning – and despite it being a Monday, I jumped right out of bed! Why? Well, for one, I was on vacation. For two, it was RUN TIME! I was going to meet Krissie for an early morning Kelly Drive run!
We met by the Boathouses and we recognized each other right away – it was the Krissie/Krissy + yellow shoe connection, methinks. Anywho, we did just over 5 miles around the loop at just under a 9 minute pace – since I had run to our meetup location from the hotel, we stopped right when my Garmin hit 7 miles. Solid run, and it sure was a much more fun run with constant conversation I love meeting blogging / social media friends!
We had a bit to go to make the loop after we hit our mileage, so we had a nice cooldown walk around before returning to the Boathouses, and Krissie generously drove me back to the hotel. We bid farewell, remarking that we’d have to do it again one day…and what a great feeling to have mileage done before the rest of the world woke up!
Next up: after a shower and packing out of the room, hubs and I headed back to Sabrina’s! We loved the brunch so much the day before we figured we couldn’t lose!
Hubs went with sweet again ^ and I went with savory (a breakfast burrito with black beans + eggs, unpictured). We stole bites of each others dishes and had just as great of an experience as the day before! Same yummy coffee, served up by a witty server & we even got those coveted counter seats again!
After that hearty meal, we proceeded to our Monday destination…
Before last weekend, I had never even heart of ESP- but on the first day we arrived, I saw a pamphlet detailing this historic site and was instantly intrigued. Opened in 1829, ESP was the first penitentiary – designed to evoke true penitence -or true regret – for crimes committed. This was a drastic change from the old idea of throwing all sorts of criminals in with each other in jails.
The admission was $12, which included use of the audio tour device (narrated by Steve Buscemi) for the initial tour – as well as other various scheduled interactive experiences. There is also a guided tour available at 2 PM but we were planning to get on the road before then, so we stuck with the audio. There were 10 stops on the audio tour, along with 40 additional stops you could choose to embark upon, based on your individual interests.
Stops were clearly marked, and included topics ranging from Daily Life, Architecture, Notable Inmates, Eastern State Today, as well as Artist Installations, as pictured above. These unique artistic additions were staged in actual prison cells, framing them in a really unique way.
ESP was controversial – and groundbreaking – in both its practices and its architecture. Of course, the exterior fortress facade was striking, but it was what was inside the walls that really shook things up! As depicted above, ESP was designed with seven cellblocks (the spokes) radiating from a central hub - the surveillance hub - which is what you see below:
Down each cellblock corridor, there were rows and rows of cells, where each prisoner was held in solitary confinement.
Each cellblock was originally designed to be one level, but in 1831, the new cellblocks were constructed with a second level to accommodate the increase in convicts.
ESP housed many criminals over the years, mostly men – but a small number of women as well. Due to the uniqueness of ESP’s layout, however, it’s possible that men never knew there were women being held.
Ironically enough, those teeny doors are actually much larger than what original inmates would have encountered – way larger! In fact, when ESP first opened, the inmates were brought into their cells through their outdoor areas, and the interior hallway was not accessible to them at all – the thing on that side of the cell was a small ‘feeding hole’ in which their meals were slid in.
But life wasn’t THAT bad at ESP…especially for some of its more notable inmates…
Yes, Al Capone was one of ESP’s most infamous ‘guests.’ Capone’s cell was notably more…comfortable…than most others and actually was on the ‘outside’ of the ‘prisoner’ area.
As mentioned above, art installations have become part of the ESP landscape. Here were a few of my favorites:
This exhibit was really neat – you could actually walk inside. Griska covered all the surfaces of the cell with sheet steel and accompanied it with the provoking question, “Who’s being protected from whom?”
This ‘outfitting’ of the cell was almost completely opposite – Schmdit hand-knit the total surface covering, which not only brings a ‘comforting’ feel to this otherwise bleak sign, but also symbolized time with each stitch mark.
Before long, hubs allergies had really caught up with him, so we started to mosey our away out – thankfully, it was easy to find the exit – no escape needed
Visiting ESP definitely was a highlight of our trip – no matter how weird that sounds. I guess its the history-nerd in me
After a quick stop at the nearby Whole Foods for a water-fill up, we headed back to the hotel to grab the car and set off on our way back home. Our time in Philly was short, but well-enjoyed – so thanks, City of Brotherly Love – we definitely felt it!
Do you enjoy visiting historical sights on your vacations? Have a favorite?