The 4 Man Wolfpack travel blog

Our next day started with Macy's in Philly. This was much easier to shop in than the one in NY. Ralph Lauren dresses for $125, lots of beautiful clothes.

I took the kids to the Eastern State Penitentiary. Brett wasn't keen, said he had seen enough jails. We intended to go for an hour or so but were there for 3 hours. It was amazing. The Eastern State Penitentiary is a former American prison in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was operational from 1829 until 1971. The penitentiary refined the revolutionary system of separate incarceration first pioneered at the Walnut Street Jail which emphasized principles of reform rather than punishment. Rather than men and women being in large rooms they were the first to have single cells. The word "penitentiary" derives from the word "penitence." Eastern State's revolutionary system of incarceration, dubbed the "Pennsylvania System" or Separate system, encouraged separate confinement (the warden was legally required to visit every inmate every day, and the overseers were mandated to see each inmate three times a day) as a form of rehabilitation.

Notorious criminals such as bank robber Willie Sutton and Al Capone were held inside its innovative wagon wheel design. At its completion, the building was the largest and most expensive public structure ever erected, and quickly became a model for more than 300 prisons worldwide.

Lilli and molly had a go at unlocking a cell, the system was not very efficient it is any wonder the place shut down, it would have taken all day to unlock the doors and re lock at night.

Originally, inmates were housed in cells that could only be accessed by entering through a small exercise yard attached to the back of the prison; only a small portal, just large enough to pass meals, opened onto the cell blocks. This design proved impractical, and in the middle of construction, cells were constructed that allowed prisoners to enter and leave the cell blocks through metal doors that were covered by a heavy wooden door to filter out noise. The halls were designed to have the feel of a church.

Some believe that the doors were small so prisoners would have a harder time getting out, minimizing an attack on a security guard. Others have explained the small doors forced the prisoners to bow while entering their cell. This design is related to penance and ties to the religious inspiration of the prison. The cells were made of concrete with a single glass skylight, representing the "Eye of God", suggesting to the prisoners that God was always watching them.

Outside the cell was an individual area for exercise, enclosed by high walls so prisoners could not communicate. Exercise time for each prisoner was synchronized so no two prisoners next to each other would be out at the same time. Prisoners were allowed to garden and even keep pets in their exercise yards. When a prisoner left his cell, an accompanying guard would wrap a hood over his head to prevent him from being recognized by other prisoners.

Cell accommodations were advanced for their time, including a faucet with running water over a flush toilet, as well as curved pipes along part of one wall which served as central heating during the winter months where hot water would be run through the pipes to keep the cells reasonably heated. Toilets were remotely flushed twice a week by the guards of the cellblock.

It had amazing history and was well worth the time. We got some great photos which I will attempt to get to the ipad.

After lunch we headed to the Magic garden which was a block away from our accommodation.

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens is a non-profit organization, folk art environment, and gallery space on South Street in Philadelphia. To date, it is the largest work created by mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar. The Magic Gardens spans three city lots, and includes indoor galleries and a large outdoor labyrinth. The mosaics are made up of everything from kitchen tiles to bike wheels, Latin-American art to china plates.

Isaiah and his wife Julia moved to South Street over forty years ago, when the area was being slated for demolition by the city in order to create a highway. Due to this proposed construction, the area was desolate and dangerous. The Zagars were one of the first people to come to this area and begin to turn its image around. They opened the Eyes Gallery on 402 South Street in 1968, which was the first property that Isaiah would mosaic. ]

After the Eyes Gallery, the Zagars went on to purchase and rent out several other buildings, and Isaiah would go on to create several other mosaiced spaces and public murals. He bought the building that currently houses Philadelphia's Magic Gardens in 1994. He fenced off the two vacant lots next door in order to keep out garbage and vermin, and over the next fourteen years began creating the Magic Gardens. In 2002 the landowner of the two vacant lots wanted to sell the land due to rising property values on South Street. Together with members of the community, Isaiah was able to purchase the lots. With this purchase "Philadelphia's Magic Gardens" was born, and is currently dedicated to preserving Isaiah's works and teaching the public about mosaic and folk art

Philadelphia's Magic Gardens was considered complete in 2008, fourteen years after Isaiah began work on the location. It is a total of 3,000 square feet (280 m2) of mosaiced space. The interior gallery space hosts artists from all over and exhibits artwork that has ties to Isaiah in some way - whether ceramics, mosaics, or "outside" art.

It was extremely well done and right in the middle of the city. I think Isaiah has too much time or money or both! It was amazing.

We saw our first shoplifter being arrested, he put up a bit of a fuss and the policeman said "stop kicking or I will f+=%n taser you", he stopped kicking!

We had Italian for dinner at Marcato. Again, superb food, lil had the meatballs, I had scallops on a pea risotto, Brett had veal with roasted capers and veg, molly had salmon. It was a bustling place and we had to wait an hour for a table, well worth it though. We packed our bags up ready to head off the next day, although we hadn't decided where to yet!!

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