Philly 2015

Manda and I went back to Philly for Mother’s Day again this year, so we had a little free time to explore. We flew into Philadelphia around Noon on Friday, thinking we would only have time to explore and shoot pics on Saturday, but we ended up getting an early start. On our way to get lunch, before we even checked into our hotel, we found out that our friend Peter was in town, coincidentally with our friends Ilona and Dennis from Amsterdam. They were at Eastern State Penitentiary, so we headed over that way after lunch. This was my 3rd time visiting ESP and it never gets old. I highly recommend checking it out if you are ever in the area. It’s not abandoned anymore and you have to pay to get in, but it’s nice to not have to worry about getting arrested while you’re there. 15 bucks and you’re in.

The prison was opened in 1829 and is considered the first true penitentiary in the world. It was once the most famous and expensive prison as well, holding some of the most notorious criminals like Willie Sutton and Al Capone. It was closed in 1971 and sat abandoned until the late 80’s. Still sitting in ruins, it was reopened to the public in 1994 for historic tours. Today, the entire place still sits in ruins, albeit preserved, and offers historical exhibits, artist installations, and even an audio tour narrated by Steve Buscemi. Here are a few photos of the place.

ESP CellESP Cell BlockAl Capone's CellESP CellTwo Tier BlockArtist InstallationCell DoorESP Shower

After the prison, we tried a few other places in Philly, but were unsuccessful. We decided to use the few hours of light we had left to go to an abandoned girl’s school an hour outside of the city. After my GPS took me to two vacant lots, we finally met with the others at a park next to the site. The sun was already starting to go down, so we tried to hit the best buildings first. We peeked into one building that had a few totally trashed classrooms. There was stuff thrown everywhere, including desks that were thrown at, and stuck into the walls. Next, we walked to the other end of the property to see the little chapel. It sat beautifully on a hill with the sun setting behind it, the inside almost as trashed as the previous building. After trying miserably to compose photos in the dark church, we decided to move on to the recreation building. The rec building was also completely trashed, covered in everything from old shoes to jock straps (I thought it was a girl’s school anyway). Almost dark now, we thought we’d check out one last building before we took off. The last building we explored was full of old arcade games and pool tables, but it was so dark, I didn’t even bother taking any shots inside. Here are a few photos from there.

rec buildingchapelpianoinside chapelclassroompool table


Finally, on Saturday, we were left with nowhere to go. We were supposed to meet with a friend Anthony from upstate NY, but he had to cancel. A quick hail mary via Instagram and we had a spot to try, but it was an hour away. It was that or go to NJ, which was no for-sure thing either. We decided to stay in Pennsylvania. We found the hospital we were looking for, but there were people all over the place because of a park nearby. Freaked out, Manda decided she would stay in the car. I walked in my most inconspicuous way around a fence and I was on the property. It was misting and about 75 degrees, so I was wearing a jacket and quickly started sweating profusely. Walking in the wet grass also made my socks and shoes completely soaked. Onward I walked.

The first building I encountered turned out to be the best one in my opinion. I walked in and immediately realized it was almost impossible to be quiet when walking on all the broken glass and brittle floor tiles. The first thing that caught my attention was a laundry cart in the front. I thought it might look good under one of the awesome skylights that I could see down the hallway, but I keep walking. It must’ve been a pediatric building because there were kids items all over. Before I get to far, I drop my bag and go back to get the laundry cart. Seeing I have no signal, I walked outside to send a text and a deer appears in the grass about 50 yards from me. Of course my camera is ever farther from me, in my bag inside. I pull out my phone, snap a shot, and another deer walks out! After my excitement for the day, I go back and set up for a shot of the cart under the skylight. Further down the hall, there was a huge organ in the middle of the doorway. I look through most of that building, then head to the next. I didn’t even shoot any pictures in the next building. It was pretty big, but it was completely empty. The next two buildings, pretty much the same. It seems as I made my way back, the buildings became newer and less interesting. One of the newer buildings ended up being pretty cool. It had a pool and actually had a few things leftover inside. After checking out the cafeteria and some admin building, I decided to take off. Before leaving though, I noticed that I missed part of the first building, so I go back in to see the rest. I’m glad I did, because I found this crazy 6-child stroller thing that was all dirty and kinda creepy. It definitely worked out great, considering I had never heard of this place just 24 hours prior.

laundrywindowsorgancartpoolgreen roomsewing machinebyebye buggy


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