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Thursday, January 28, 2016
By Angela Squicciarini
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  In the middle of December I recieved a call from my friend Tony, that Jess and him were travelling up from Louisiana going to DC, Philly, New York, and then Vermont.  So he asked me if I would like to meet them in Philly, they were going to the Eastern State Pententiary.   Where?  Yes, I was not that far away, but have never been, nor did I know much about it.  Jess had read up on it before and always wanted to go, so it was on their way.  It wasn't a holiday location, but visiting friends you haven't seen in a long time is always a treat.  We all attended photography school together, hadn't seen each other in years, and of course they would not get annoyed if you said 'oh I want to take one more shot.'  They get it!  So of course I said yes, not knowing what to expect from the place.  It was one of the few cold days in December we had this year, so I bundled up and was on my way to Philly.  I didn't have trouble finding it, and when I was there, I knew I had passed it before, but didn't know it was a museum or it's history. When they arrived they also brought a new photo friend Greg, from NYC.  So we were ready for our journey.  I read a little about the prison when I got my ticket online, but had no idea what I was in store for. So glad I was bundled up, we were outside and even inside it was cold.  No heat was on except portable heaters in different locations.  There was one little room inside, a charging station where you could sit, charge your phone and get warm.  It was quite an amazing place and filled with a long history.  It was the world's first true penitentiary, designed to inspire true regret in the hearts of the criminals!  It took 30 years for them to convince the state to build it, and it's doors opened in 1829.  It was a prison for 142 years and closed it's doors in 1971.  The buildings were in poor shape and was going to be repurposed, but it eventually came to be a museum.  As photographers, the first thing we thought of was what a cool place for a portrait or fashion session.  The light coming in the broken windows, the skylights, the texture on the walls, was amazing.  It reminded me of a castle.  We started out together and then we all kind of went in our own directions except Tony and I.  We had fun walking, talking, catching up and I also coaxed him into taking some headshots of me.  Fortunately he agreed.   It was awhile before I had a chance to look at the images.  It was fun to revisit them and see how beautiful the textures were. There were some funny stories about some prisoners, like Al Capone's cell.  It's my photo with the wing chair and rugs, etc. There were also many sad stories.  There were some art exhibits, benches to sit and reflect.  So close to Christmas I was surprised to see so many people there.  Sometimes you find a gem when you least expect it.  If you are interested in a visit or would just like to learn more, here's the link:

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