Seriously - not many people would think to go to an abandoned prison on their one day of sightseeing in Philly, but I'm sure glad we did! We had been to Philadelphia before, and seen many of the "important' sights, so this time we looked for something "different". The Eastern State Penitentiary was a great find. I took my 15-year-old daughter and a 12-year-old friend. They both loved it! We did a guided tour (which got us into some areas that we wouldn't otherwise have seen). That took about an hour. I wouldn't have thought that learning about how the penal system evolved would be interesting, but it was - even to the girls! The whole atmosphere helped you to understand what the prisoners felt. There were some cells you could even go into. The guide was very good, and we were glad to have done the tour.
Then we explored on our own for another hour and a half. The place is kind of eerily beautiful. My daughter is a budding photographer, and she brought her camera and took probably a couple hundred pictures. Everywhere you looked was something worth photographing! Since the prison had been abandoned for 20 years, there were trees growing in some of the cells, ceilings falling in, paint peeling everywhere....
I guess it's hard to really explain the appeal - you just have to go and experience it for yourself. Kids and adults alike - you won't be disappointed.
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