Independence, Liberty & Penitentiary!

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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Thursday, September 2, 2010

The good news is that the ride to Philadelphia is only 2 hours away from NYC but the bad news is that I had to wake up at 4:45 AM to catch the 6:30 bus to Philly. I soon realized that society and I rely too much on the modern system of technology. In this case, Vera's G1 Android with her navigation program. Lost or not, what surprised me the most was how friendly most of the people in Philly were. Standing there on the corner of the block looking at Vera's Android, I was able to receive voluntary directional help from various people. 

Our first stop was the Visitor center to get tickets into the Independence Hall. At this point it is 9 AM on a Thursday and it is not at all crowded. Getting tickets into the Independence Hall was a breeze and the group was relatively small. The ranger tour guide was a different story. He was loud and bizarre but enough to keep me alert and awake throughout the whole tour! Was able to see the original court room and the conference area where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Wish I could have sat in the seat that George Washington sat in but seeing it from a distance was A-OK with me.

After the Independence Hall, we ventured to learn more about the liberty bell and of course take a picture with it. Surprisingly the liberty bell holds various meanings to different people but what I found the most interesting was that the Indian Tribe were the only one that saw the liberty bell in a negative aspect. The reason being was that the Indians were forced to sign over their land and had no "liberty" in the treaty at all. Different folks view different things.

Had some spare time to waste and it wasn't lunch time yet so we ventured to find Franklin's Courthouse... presumably haunted. Well that's what it said on the map so we continued to find Benjamin Franklin's place and walked down past an ally way and finally found it. Except it was a total disappointment because  the place wasn't a haunted town house at all. They called it a "ghost house" because the white steel pillars are what's left of what was once a courthouse. The steel acts as the "ghost house". Lame... thats ok because by now, I got hungry and it was lunch time.

Lunch? Guess what. I am in Philadelphia, which means I must try a Philly Cheese Steak! I had it all planned out and we were to walk to Jim's Steak. Had really good reviews on yelp. Vera and I decided that waiting for the bus would take too long so we went and trekked about a mile to the South end of Philly. Following our walking GPS on the Android, it led us to our "destination". Only to discover that Jim's Steak was no where to be found but the address that yelp gave me was actually a mexican place. Great... we walked over a mile with our 25 lb backpacks- not to mention touring all morning with the backpack on. We are exhausted and hungry. Determined to find Philly Cheese Steak we ventured upon a place that was unpacking food deliveries. The owner of the place ended up being really nice and told us to come in to try some Philly Cheese Steaks. Since I was hungry and he was nice I decided to give the place a shot. This place is called Steaks on South (SOS) and the food was actually really really good. The guy was really nice and friendly and gave us free fries with our meals.

Now that our tummy's were filled with food we can no walk back to our next destination. No not our hotel- I wish but to Eastern State Penitentiary. Oh was I excited. History about prison? Umm yes please. I am following Al Capone from Alcatraz Island to the Eastern State Penitentiary in PA. Capone oh Capone you never cease to amaze me

From the outside, the penitentiary looks like a castle but from the inside- boy was it creepy. So creepy in fact, just don't get freaked out by my pictures. Speaking of which, the penitentiary is holding a wicked haunted house there. Should be really good- thinking about going. If you've ever been there, let me know if it's worth the $30/ ticket.

At the time the Eastern State Penitentiary was modeled to be a prison that uses psychological instead of physical punishment. This was rare because during the time period, physical punishment was highly accepted within society. Even teachers were allowed to hit a student for misbehaving. When I speak pf psychological punishment I'm talking about being locked in the room alone in the dark, gradually having meals taken away, revoking exercise time and even taking away prison jobs so that they had nothing to do with their 23 hours. It can be painful but it works.

There were actually 3 stories that caught my attention- all of which I am about to explain to you. Oddly enough, as much as I enjoy learning about Capone none of the stories has to do with him!

1. Pep the Dog was sentenced to prison at Eastern State Penitentiary for killing the Governors cat! How silly is that? The first dog sentenced to jail.
2. Willy Sutton was an infamous bank robber back in the 1900's. He was known for his to dramatic yet settle costumes during his criminal careers. He would be dressed as a mail carrier, come in with masks etc. But what made him unique was that even as a bank robber he had standards. Willie would never rob a bank if a women or child was involved and never carried a loaded gun. He only stole from the rich and left the poor alone.
3. Willie Sutton along with 11 other inmates decided to dig a 15 feet tunnel to escape the penitentiary. It took Willie and his cell mate one year to complete the tunnel from their cell. They all managed to escape one way or another but all the 12 inmates were eventually recaptured. Including James Grace who asked to be put back into prison because he was hungry. Haha.

After spending 3 hours at the penitentiary there was nothing else to see or learn about. Luckily it was finally time to check into the hotel and even more lucky for us that it was just 3 blocks away! You bet I was exhausted- even took a nap when I got to the hotel!
Honestly, if you asked me, I would NOT recommend this hotel to anyone. It really is lousy and the overpriced breakfast wasn't that edible.

Long day so we were going to end this day short. Not much of plans for the night but to eat dinner at King Tuts (Indian Restaurant), which is by far the best I've had. Then ventured a block over to the Swann Memorial Fountain. The fountain is so beautiful at night, you can even walk in and dip your feet in the fountain without getting yelled at!

Got back to the hotel by 11 PM and didnt even know that I concked out until the next morning. Haha. Next stop... Washington DC! 

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