Here is a map of my travels during my spring break. I live in Baldwin, New York and was celebrating my time away from school by going on a bit of a road trip with my boyfriend, Steve. He created a surprise for my 22nd birthday to visit different locations near by that wouldn’t require a pricey plane ticket to get there.
First Stop: Philadelphia
Instead of finding myself under the sun on a beach with a cold drink I arrived to abrupt fortress that is the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.
Getting here from my house only took a little over 2 hours. I was definitely surprised as I have heard of this place as hosting a haunted ghost tour during Halloween. When we arrived my boyfriend was a little concerned over the parking as there is no private parking around here. It is located 10 minutes away from the city area of Philly.and has beautiful homes of restaurants across the street. In order to park you simply have to find a spot and check back again to move your car within two hours. Unlike the city life there were no parking meters to prove if your car was there over 2 hours. When we made it to the front entrance of the jail a woman greeting those coming into the museum alerted us that we would be fine but that town is strict on parking. We quickly made a note of it to not stay longer than 2 hours. Surprisingly a jail as old as this one had so much to learn from that it was hard to leave within such a short time.
There are 9 hallways within the high castle like walls of the jail. Each hallway held either men or women who’s crimes ranged from petty larceny to murder. We began our tour using the audio tours they provide. We quickly were brought to different locations within the penitentiary that would show the decaying walls or openings of the small cells that people were forced to stay in for 23 hours a day in the early 1700s into the 1800s. We also learned about what the jail was like during the 1900s which involved gang life growing within these walls.
Inside we saw that what was left behind was old cots, bed frames, and toilets in some of the dirty and ghost-like rooms. In some of the cells you could see a small door directly across from where you stood to peer in. This small door that could probably fit an 8-year-old was for the prisoners to go through during their one hour break to a yard that is no longer there now.
The first picture above shows the typical inmates cell with one small toilet, the small door leading to the yard, a work table and a bed. There were no windows to give in sunlight in some of the cells. On the right we see Al Capone’s cell which was right outside of the barbershop room. The barbershop room was a regular hang out spot for inmates and police officers. Some officers would even invite their friends and family to get their hair cut in the penitentiary barbershop. But Back to Capone, he had a lavish room and was given a luxurious life while in jail where he could eat well and live comfortably. We were told you could also hear classical music from his room all the way down the hall.
As you can see in this next picture my boyfriend was having some fun using one of those face-swapping apps in one of the rooms we were in. In this room we learned of the gang life within these prison walls. In the 1920s gangs were created to control drugs, alcohol, and a prostitution ring inside the prison. On the wall where Steve is standing in front of we learned that gang life continued to flourish within all jails ever since.
After the jail tour it was time to get some food. Steve is Peruvian so naturally he surprised me with the most delicious and inexpensive restaurant called Sardi’s Pollo a la Brasa about 5 minutes away from the penitentiary. This restaurant was similar to a buffet style and served the best Peruvian food. We both ordered chicken (pollo), fried rice (arroz chaufa), and yuca fries.
I had to of course quickly post it on my snapchat because I was unable to hold in my excitement. We quickly ate and drove around Philly into the city area before our next stop, The Ghost Tours of Philadelphia.
The Ghost Tours of Philadelphia began in Independence Park where we learned from our Paul Revere look alike tour guide all the secrets “hidden in the shadows” of the historic city. We continued our tour into Society Hill and Old City where we learned of personal accounts of people witnessing blood dripping from the walls of the very room the Declaration of Independence was signed. Since many of the homes within that area were the original structures from the 1800s many people also would claim sightings of ghosts in their homes. It is also common within this area for people to decorate their homes in the original setting you’d find in an 1800s home. In Independence Park there is a personal account from a police officer witnessing a woman disappear from his eyes when he approached her. It is said the lady was from the 1700s and had been known to be insane during her life. But soon after the ghost tour we found ourselves on a random street with beautiful homes similar to St. Marks in NYC. Funny enough there was a pizza shop that sold slices almost as long as my arm. You can see my amazement in one of the above photos.
Next Stop: Atlantic City
We spent a quick night in Philly but got up the next morning and drove to the most gorgeous hotel, Trump Taj Mahal. We first arrived to the hotel by parking in the self service parking lot. We quickly learned that most hotels here cost $5-$10 in parking expenses but will give you a transfer to park again at least once for the day. We parked and gathered our things and entered the glistening hotel. Inside there was the casino of course, a lot of food options such as Chinese food, sandwiches, a steak house and more. To get to the front desk you went down the escalators that opened up these three beautifully chandeliers. Steve surprised me with the chairman’s room and I quickly caught a panoramic view of it all. While on the the 76th floor we were able to see the boardwalk and the water below.
Our only setbacks were the weather and the fact that the pool was being renovated. Unfortunately for us there was no pool side or beach fun but we did have fun at the casino and walking along the board walk. My best tip is to only visit Atlantic City during the summer when many people are there and it’s warmest. Also it is best not to enter into the town of Atlantic City unless you are going the outlets. I have read many reviews saying that it is a dangerous neighborhood.
All in all, it was an amazing trip for much relaxation.