Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 14: Philadelphia > Providence

It was a melancholy day all around, the weather was still unsettled, and I was going to say goodbye to Steph for an untold amount of time. At least we had a good time with friends in Philly.

Out of the garage came the Scoot, and Steph began to pack for her adventure, for real this time.

Hmm..what goes where?

Loaded for bear, as they say.


No really, get out of here.

And there she goes!

The rest of my ride was pretty uneventful, and I made it home in decent time.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May 13: Philadephia

(Better late than never, is what I say! Sorry it took months to get the rest of this trip up...)

Today was hotter than average for May, but still it was a beautiful day to wander around Philadelphia. After parking quite a distance from where we wanted to be, Steph and I walked around the sights of the Old City of Philadelphia.

Independence Hall was undergoing restorations, but it still looked pretty.

The lines to see the Liberty Bell up close were ridiculously long, so we opted to peek through the glass.

While searching for Reading Terminal Market, we stumbled across Chinatown.

After finding the Market, we made a bee-line for food. Since I've started eating beef, this time I wanted to go for a true Philly Cheese Steak. Dinic's was the winner.

Oh, boy was it good. 

I forget the name of this candy shop, but they have some of the best dark chocolates.

And my favorite hard pretzel, "Tom Sturgis". I savor these and share them with select people, who universally agree they are fantastic.

Steph and her new friend did some work, and maybe shared a little bit of food.

It was time for us to depart Adrienne's for a night with a scooter friend of Stephs.

Scoot out!

First up we stopped at a local scooter shop so Steph could connect with some friends. By this time I wasn't feeling the best, allergies seemed to be hitting me pretty hard again.

We tucked the scoot away with other vintage scooters and headed out for dinner.

With the strong German influence in Pennsylvania, I had sausages which was delicious.

By this time my allergies were really overwhelming, so I crashed for the rest of the night while Steph and her friend caught up.

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 12: Philadelphia

Monday morning dawned, and so did a full blown allergy attack. Sniffling, sneezing, general lethargy...nothing that a coffee shop and some sunshine (and a massive stack of tissues) can't cure, right?

Satchmo guarding the couch at A's house.
After recharging in the morning, we headed off to wander around Philly for awhile. While randomly driving throughout a neighborhood, S noticed a tremendously tall stone wall.

In disbelief, we had actually randomly stumbled across Eastern State Penitentiary, the exact place we wanted to go.

Eastern State is a fascinating place. Not only for someone that has a passing interest in prison history but also because it was from an entirely different school of thought for prisons.

Unlike "The Reformatory" in Elmira, Eastern State was designed for solitude, giving prisoners time for reflection upon their misdeeds. Most of those that were incarcerated stayed between 2 and 8 years, so it wasn't as if they were being locked away in solitary confinement indefinitely.  Considering the literacy rate and availability of books in the 1830's, however, it must have been soul crushingly and mind numbingly boring to not see or speak to anyone for years on end.

Entrance to the Prison cell blocks, Wing 1.

Wing 1, as it looked very early on. Originally the cells only had small doors for feeding in this hallway. Entrance to the cell was from the outside small exercise yard that each cell had. This allowed the inmates no contact with even the guards.

Some of the amazing woodwork construction behind all of the plaster.

Note the "keystone" number plate. 

Later in Eastern State's history, it was realized that the time and labor needed to maintain the one prisoner/one cell solitude was intenable. Successive wings were built in two stories, with multiple prisoners per cell, and no outside space for the cells. The "Pennsylvania System" slowly faded from prominence in the US, but it went on to be the benchmark for European prisons to this day.

Looking down Wing 7, showing the two levels of cells.

Typical later prison cell.

Plaque commemorating those prisoners that served in WW1, but only by number. Not really explained if this was prisoners who served before they were in prison, during, or after.

Seen here is one of the original single floor cells, complete with the blocked in doorway that exited to the small individual exercise area.

I asked about this person - how did he come to be a guard and an inmate at the same prison? No one really knew...

This is the exterior view of a restored original cell, from the vantage point of the exercise yard.

Later addition of a central guard tower, overseeing each of the wings.

It's quite hard to imagine a life within Eastern State Penitentiary, but people did live there for decades on end, but not by choice. As haunted as this place claims to be, I never really got a weird vibe from it (unlike a trip years before to Winchester Mystery House...that place is seriously spooky). Of course, I was there in broad daylight on a beautiful May day. Late at night in October might be a different story altogether...

Further wandering around Philly brought us past this amazing building...I wish I had been able to get more pictures of it, but the Divine Lorraine Hotel is simply a architectural marvel. 

In the heart of Old City Philly are two of my favorite shops - Shane's Confectionary and Franklin Fountain. The stores basically speak for themselves.

The ice cream, soda and candy that you can purchase at these establishments is every bit as good as you'd expect it to be. It's one of those convergent moments in tourism that the hype of a touristy type place is well deserved.

This marble lamp and soda dispenser in Franklin Fountain are the oldest operating in the country, apparently.
Since I had never even set foot near the Philadelphia Art Museum, and it is an impressive building, we decided to head there and walk around for a bit.

By this time, my allergies had finally gotten the best of me. Back to A's house for some rest and playtime with Satchmo the cat.

What's that? Can I play with it? Please!?
Drinks and dinner and drinks were had at Dock Street Brewery, and the sad news that a friend's iPod was stolen from her car prompted S. and A. to properly show their sadness.

A great day exploring Philly, even if we didn't get to nearly everything. But the allergies...oh man, they're lethal.