For Labor Day weekend, Rob and I went to Philadelphia. I had been there before once but I was there for work so I didn't wander around very much. It's only 2.5 hours from the DC area so it was a great pick for a weekend trip.
Our first stop was Eastern State Penitentiary. Built in the 1820s, it was one of the first large prisons in the US. It was intended by its founders to be an all solitary-confinement prison but that did not last into the 20th century. It closed in 1970 and reopened as a historic site in 1994. When I visited briefly five years ago, I still had to wear a hard hat to go inside. No more hard hats and it's a bit more polished now, which I must admit is a bit of a bummer. The prison has a fascinating history which I won't go into here, but if you live in within a few hours drive it's definitely worth a drive!
The first picture shows how the city grew up around the penitentiary. In the middle is the original guard tower, on the right is a newer tower built in the 60s, and in the background is the skyline of Philadelphia. The bottom picture was taken from a catwalk on one of the cell blocks. They do not plan on completely restoring any of the prison, but I love to imagine what it would have looked like.
One of the neat things about Philadelphia is all of the public art. The picture on the left is a statue is called "Government of the People". Rob thought it looked like a bunch of people holding up a giant pile of feces and I can't say I disagree. I wonder if the sculptor was inspired by that thought. On the right is Philadelphia's city hall, also a delightful building. I heard that the best view in the city is from atop city hall.
Philadelphia is just about as saturated with history as the DC area. The picture below is a memorial to all of the soldiers buried in unmarked graves in this public square. The main inscription reads "Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness".
Update on my parents . . . they both spent a week in the hospital following their motorcycle accident. They both will need months to be back to normal, and I'm going home in a few days to give my sisters a break and spend the week helping them out. My mom has a broken right ankle which required surgery (no driving for weeks) and my dad has both cracked ribs and vertebrae and a broken right shoulder blade. He has to wear a tight brace around his torso when he is not lying down. I'm very glad that they are going to be okay! Thank you to everyone for the well-wishes.