Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Philadelphia, PA: Haunted prisons, 80 lb tumors, and Benjamin Franklin

  As I may have mentioned, this year my husband and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary.  We planned a vacation together in Philadelphia around a Preservation conference my husband was scheduled to attend.  We flew in my wonderful mother-in-law, all the way from Florida, to stay with our 4 children for the week that we were away.  I spent a lot of time walking around the city, visiting museums, and seeing all the important Colonial sites while my husband attended board meetings, poor guy!  On one of the rare days that we were able to site see together, we visited Eastern State Penitentiary.  This prison was built in 1829, and was the first prison in the world to isolate prisoners in their own cells so that they would receive spiritual enlightenmentand truly be "penitent," hence the name penitentiary.  Prisoners were forbidden from leaving their cells or communicating with other inmates or guards.  Their cells had only a bed, a trunk, a chamber pot, and a bible.  No other reading materials were allowed at Eastern State in the beginning.  Also interesting, was the fact that Eastern State housed both men and women until 1923.  Eastern State is also well known as one of the most carefully studied buildings for paranormal investigations.  Unfortunately, I received no ghost flirting or harassment... total let down!
Also worth visiting
The Philadelphia Museum of Art.  On Wednesday evenings, visitors get to choose the price of their admission!  If you're feeling especially ridiculous, you can pose next to the Rocky statue located at the Museum's entrance.
The Penn Museum, especially if you have an interest in Egyptian mummies.
The Mütter Museum, which is a collection of medical oddities; including skeletal, mummified, pickled, and wax filled humans.  The bottom floor has some of the more creepy exhibits, including an 80 lb ovarian tumor, and a necklace made from genital warts.  Maybe eat lunch before you go, because the "ick" factor is pretty high.

I took a walking tour through of all the Ben Franklin related sites (Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, first post office, Ben Franklin's grave, etc).  The tour guides rely on tips so you essentially get to pick the price for the tour.
The Dream Garden @ Curtis Center, which is a Maxfield Parrish designed mosaic done in Tiffany glass: it's FREE
Macy's in the historic Wanamaker building: FREE
Walk through JFK Plaza and then check out City Hall, which is beyond gorgeous!
Reading Terminal Market is a huge indoor mall of restaurants, with limitless great food options.  Bring cash though, because a lot of places aren't equipped to take cards.
I personally think you can't go wrong with a Philly Cheese steak, but Jim's Steaks has the coolest 1939 Moderne building!

Philly has a lot to offer if you are looking for gorgeous architecture, great museums, and really good food.  I was however, totally disappointed with the vintage shopping.  I hit about six different vintage shops and found them to be really overpriced and depressing.  The only shop worth mentioning is Briar Vintage, which sadly for me, was only men's clothing.
We had a great vacation together.  What are some of your favorite things to do in Philly, PA?


  1. Yes, vintage shopping in Philly is sadly lacking. There is one decent consignment shop (Second Time Around on Chestnut) that occasionally has a gem or two, and Greene Street Consignment on South Street that also occasionally has something nice, but you have to hit it just right. Plus, hello overpriced!

    Glad you had a nice trip!

  2. The oddities museum sounds fantastic!

  3. Oh wow! What interesting places and fab photos! I've always wanted to go to Philadelphia but now I want to go even more!



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