Chants, Lamentations and Veneration

From darkness into light…from monochrome into vibrant color… from winter into spring, an emerging opening and flow rather than a fighting. There is a gentle stirring of one’s spirit with words like hope, light and resurrection because they emerge from a dying. Intertwined within this are rituals and traditions which ground us, give meaning and create bonds of friendships and identity.

Good Friday Service

In the Greek Orthodox religion, the Easter season is one of the most profound and holiest times of the year so I decided to experience and get a glimpse into the rituals and symbolism of the Good Friday service. First, when I walked into the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Elkins Park, PA, the 6th oldest Greek Orthodox community in the US, established in 1901, I was struck by the hospitality and warmth of the women who welcomed me. I was a stranger and they wanted to make sure I felt comfortable, giving up a front row seat for me, explaining what would be happening. This hospitality was as beautiful as the gold Byzantine icons surrounding me. There was a sacred richness mixed with that Greek love for life and I was totally caught up in it! A key for me was when I couldn’t tell which child belonged to which mother…all the women there were their mothers, hugging, kissing and tugging on clothes and fixing hair. I need more Greek friends!

A Mother and Her Son

In the front of the church was a richly decorated and elaborately carved canopy called a Kouvouklion which represents the tomb of Jesus. The women had spent over 3 hours that morning decorating it with spring flowers of white, red and purple. The ceremony began with readings from the bible, ethereal chanting from the cantors and incense flowing freely to remind everyone that their prayers flow freely to God. Then, gathering around the image of Christ on the cross, the men reached up to take away the nails while young girls (representing the women at the feet of the cross) held the white cloth waiting to receive the wooden representation of Jesus in death. It was then taken behind one of the three doors separating the nave from the sanctuary and referred to as the Iconostosis. An elaborately decorated tapestry with the image of Christ prepared for burial, referred to as the Epitafio, was then brought out and carried around the church as all present bow in veneration.

It Is Done

Venerating the Body of Christ

Woman bowed in prayer

Prayer by the Kouvouklion

After it was placed on the Kouvouklion, people young and old then began to line up with gestures symbolizing a deep and abiding faith. The sign of the cross was made followed by bowing to kiss either the feet or hands of the icon. The priest stated the generally, one does not kiss the face of the icon. Once again, the sign of the cross was made and then many people got down on their hands and knees and crawled through the bottom of the Kouvouklion to symbolize their willingness to enter unto death with Christ.

Man approaching the Kouvouklion

Entering into the death of Christ

Man Joining With Christ

Someone is Always There

Light in Darkness

These rituals become the pathway to enter into a mystery of God and visibly show a faith and belief. Even though there are many paths, an abiding commonality is that there is hope in the face of fear, that there is life in the face of death and that love holds us, heals us and carries us forth to ignite the world with kindness. I am so glad that I stepped into this new experience and am so grateful to all the women who so graciously gathered around me and made me feel at home and to Fontina Moller who first taught me the meaning of Opa, I held you in my heart as I walked through your church. Now on to Easter!

Philadelphia Streets: Feeling the Love

Valentine's Gift

Valentine's Day Gift

Valentine's Day Gift

Valentine's Day Gift

Valentine's Day Gift

Valentine's Day Gift

Valentine's Day Gift

Valentine's Day Gift

Valentine's Day Gift

Today the temperatures dropped to single digits and snow dotted the streets of downtown Philadelphia. Gray and bitter cold. Yet, it was one of the most invigorating and enlivening Valentine’s Day I have ever had. “Love”, “Connections”, “Heart to Heart”, “Meaning in Life”… all words on thousands of Hallmark cards but this past month, they were reality.

Students, staff, parents and grandparents at Sandy Run Middle School all came together to knit almost 200 scarves for the homeless. Bright colors, dark colors, multi-colored…all so very warm with a heart shaped message attached to each one. People were knitting during every free moment so that these harbingers of caring warmth could be delivered today, Valentine’s Day.

Sean, sitting on the street, was so grateful and asked for one for his girlfriend. One woman began to cry saying that it was so very cold today and the colors made her feel better. As the scarves were passed out, people who never met were now connected. Good wishes exchanged. The givers received and the receivers gave.

Rosa’s Fresh Pizza, located at 25 S. 11th Street has recently received attention from the Ellen Show and NBC Nightly News. Mason, the owner, left a job on Wall Street to open a pizza shop in Philadelphia. It has become the epitome of “Pay it Forward”. Customers buy a slice and donate $1.00 for someone who is homeless. The walls are covered with messages of love and thanks. Today, those who came in were given something to eat and a hand made scarf to lessen the biting cold. In Gwanko’s words on Rosa’s wall, “I’m so happy to get to see people coming together and really making a difference in the community!” What a wonderful Valentine’s Day today has been!

Communal Living: Twin Oaks and Little Acorn

Southern Exposure Seed Exhchange

Farming the land

Farming the land

This week in the mail, I received my annual copy of “Southern Exposure“.
Snow is forecasted. Super Bowl festivities are underway and I am remembering a time 2 very hot summers ago. I met a woman who was weaving hammocks at the Kutztown Folk Festival. While I was photographing her art, I was curious about her background. She related that she lived at Twin Oaks Intentional Community (modern name for a commune) in rural Louisa County, Virginia. I was intrigued – what would make people choose this lifestyle? After several phone calls back and forth, Paxus Calta (Earl Schuyler Flansburg) invited us into this lifestyle. I travelled down with my friend Ann Lauder who is an excellent writer. I would photograph and she would tell the story.

Twin Oaks is referred to by the 100 residents as an ecovillage and intentional community. It was started in 1967 by psychology students studying “Walden Two”. Homes can have up to 26 members and possessions are shared to promote the greater good of the society. Clothes, underwear and shoes can be found in “Commy Clothes”. There was definitely a musty odor but certainly variety! Clothing can also be optional. Each member, whether married or not, has their own room. Bathrooms are open to all, locking doors is frowned upon. Unconventional and alternative lifestyles are as readily supported as conventional lifestyles. This is not a religious community and all denominations are welcomed.

Home at Twin Oaks

Home at Twin Oaks

Commy Clothes

Commy Clothes

Car Sharing

Weekly Work Chart

There is car sharing and chore sharing, all very organized. Each member is asked to give 42 hours of service each week. A few examples are: washing dishes, child care, gardening or working in one of the three multi-million dollar companies the community owns. Twin Oaks sells hammocks, tofu, and heirloom seeds. For the work, a monthly stipend of $80 is provided. Residents are provided with all the basic necessities of food, shelter, health care, child care and education. Decisions must be made by the entire community, even as far as deciding if someone can get pregnant and bring a child into the community.

Waste from Tofu

Tofu

Hammocks For Sale

Paxus and the Hammocks

Organic Farming

Heirloom Tomato

Heirloom Tomato

Seed Collecting

Seed Collecting

Southern Exposure Seeds

As much as possible is recycled. There are areas that appear to be filled with junk, but the items are just waiting for that creative touch. Even fecal matter is recycled into green energy. More and more, members are trying to live off of the grid and rely on solar energy. The majority of what is eaten is grown or raised right there. Cows, chickens and gardens supply members with a variety of food.

Recycling

Human Waste Recycled

Breakfast and Dinner

Some members left Twin Oaks and began “Little Acorn”. It has fewer members and decisions are made by the majority rather than the entire body. The focus of this community is on harvesting heirloom seeds for their “Southern Exposure” company. Gardens are totally organic and they make sure that the quality of the soil is preserved with absolutely no genetic engineering.

Grow It to Eat It

What are the positives of this lifestyle choice? In this economy, people do not have to worry about bills, shelter/food and loneliness. There is individual freedom in choosing how to spend time and what to work on. Residents can take pride in decreasing their carbon footprint. The negatives expressed had to deal with the lack of funds limiting the freedom to travel and the difficulties which can arise when relationships do not work out in such close quarters. While television is not allowed, access to the internet is. New members are now coming with lap tops and spending more time on their own rather than in community as it was before this technology arrival. While older members have been there for decades, younger members seem to stay only a few years and move on. Some said they came to learn entrepreneurial skills with the hope of leaving to start their own organic farms or small businesses.

We met a son of a former CIA agent, a former buddhist monk, teachers, artists, true hippies, political activists and those so very concerned about what is happening to our environment. In the rural hills of Louisa, Virginia one may definitely come across that “road less travelled”.

Philly Aids Walk

Finished!

Finished!

I Am With You

I Am With You

Cheering On

Cheering On

Honoring A Life

Honoring A Life

Days Gone By

Days Gone By

This time last Sunday, I was returning home from the Philly AIDS Walk. I am working on a long term project which required me to photograph this event. It was the first time I attended and was totally impressed by the number of people who joined together to walk and run in order to support those touched by HIV and to help fund further research. I could have easily spent the majority of my time photographing this expansive sea of humanity but I chose to photograph from a different perspective.

Those with cancer may say, “I have cancer.”

While AIDS seems to consume one’s identity. When asked, most respond with “I am HIV positive.” As if they are the disease. So I decided to forego the larger picture and honor the individual. I walked through the crowd to capture the moments of strength, support and reflection.

Reading Terminal Market: One of the Top Ten Public Spaces in America

Reading Terminal Market

The Reading Terminal Market, located in the center of Philadelphia, was just recognized as one of the “10 Great Public Spaces in America”. With over 6 1/2 million visitors a year to this historic and diverse landmark, The American Planning Association felt it worthy of this honor. There are 76 independently owned retailers all under one roof. This would be the epitome of “one stop shopping”! One can buy homemade cannolis, taste cheeses from around the world, dine on the culinary delights of the Amish, buy a good book and take home a beautiful bouquet of flowers to name just a few of the offerings. It is a feast for the senses and this was home for me and where I grew up!

My great grandfather (pictured second from left) was one of the first vendors at the Reading Terminal Market when it opened in 1892. My grandfather (on the left) and great uncle worked side by side with him. When my grandfather died suddenly during the depression, my grandmother had no money to bury him so the vendors took up a collection and came to her aid. This story was passed down from generation to generation so that we would realize the importance of working together and giving back. My grandmother was eternally grateful to all those around her. My father was only 13 at the time and had to drop out of school to take over the business with his older brother and of course, it doesn’t end there…when the cousins all turned 14, going to work at the market was our right of passage! My one older cousin and I drooled over Mr. Bassett’s son (the ice cream king) who worked directly across from us. Pearl had the very best fried chicken and I would always wonder how the Amish women dressed using only pins and hook and eye closures, thinking zippers and buttons would be so much easier! As a teenager, getting up at 5 o’clock on a Saturday and going to the slaughter house to pick up the meat for the day and not getting home until 9 was not my idea of fun to say the least. My mother would try to extol all the life lessons I would learn which I would of course appreciate when I got older… one being that I would meet so many many different people, personalities and cultures. (I will always remember the gaunt man who always wanted a quart of sauerkraut juice without the sauerkraut, only to find out later that it was a potent laxative…great for dinner party conversations but I digress!) Even though I didn’t want to hear it then, I have to say that she was right! One of the 10 top public spaces in America was the nucleus for my family. The place I grew up working side by side with siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. The Reading Terminal Market was also the spot that first stoked my curiosity about people and my love for travel. It was my spot of “Roots and Wings”.

Wandering Along The Back Streets in Florence

Florence, Italy

Florence, Santa Maria Novella

 

 

Florence, Santa Maria Novella

 

A city bathed in the warm colors of rust and amber, A city where the artists Michelangelo, DaVinci, Donatello, Botticelli and Brunelleschi (just to mention a few) brought forth a collective body of the greatest works of art the world has ever known.  A city where artists attempted to capture the beauty, order and harmony of the human body as a way to glorify God and they excelled at this glorification. Florence is known as the heart of the Renaissance and in many ways the foundation of our modern world lifting us out of the dark ages. It is a city I go back to time and time again as it continually amazes me.

On a recent trip, I walked the far back streets where I had never been before.  There I discovered Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novellaone.  The Dominican Friars founded this center in 1221 as a location to make herbal remedies and potions to use in the monastery. “Their reputation became world renowned and the pharmacy, sponsored by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, opened to the public in 1612.”

Many of the Farmaceutica Di Santa Maria Novella’s products have become a part of history: the world famous pot-pourri is still hand crafted in large terra cotta vats using local essences and plants as has been the tradition since the 1200’s. The first “Eau de Cologne” has been attributed to the pharmacy’s creation in the 1500’s of Catherine de Medeci’s “Water of the Queen.” She used the citrus and bergamot scented water and shared it with all her closest friends during her reign as the Queen of France and one can still purchase this fragrance today.  There is  a quiet reverence which envelopes the visitor.  Vaulted ceilings, ornately carved dark wood and low lighting that somehow makes each vintage bottle glow as if holding a rich treasure.  Creams, soaps and perfumes all provide a glimpse into the past practices of the monks who were so attuned to the healing benefits found in nature.  Their original recipe ledgers can still be seen. While knowing that Santa Maria Novella has opened in Chevy Chase, Dallas, Los Angels and New York,  I was very happy to leave this special surprise discovery at Via della Scala, 16, 50123 with a small, beautifully wrapped “Angels of Florence”. Now the scent of white flowers from a far off place lifts my spirits  and I am transported  to a place I love and reminded to wander through the small, back streets.

The New York Times Travel Show, 2014

Dreamscape

Dreamscape

Dance in China

Dance in China

Joseph Rosendo

Joseph Rosendo

Guide Please

Guide Please

Malaysian Welcome

Malaysian Welcome

 

Have I mentioned lately how much I love what I do?  ‘Tis the time of year when I received one of my most coveted press passes…a pass that leads to planes, trains and automobiles (river boats and luxury cruise ships) as well as every continent on earth.  The New York Times Travel Show consistently satiates my wanderlust!  It is a three day feast with photography of the most beautiful sites on earth, music, art, dance, cuisine and some of the best travel adventures offered at discounted prices.

Walking through the exhibit floor, I tasted bubble tea, learned how to salsa with Danza Fiesta, heard the spiritual sounds of the Himalayas from Sonam Adventures and received a sample of a new product, “LiveLeaf Traveler Protect and LiveLeaf Traveler Rescue” which provides “fast, natural relief from digestive distress”. Christmas came early! Seriously though, this company has also developed a program called “Lifedrops” dedicated to saving children’s lives by reducing the burden of diarrhea in developing third world countries and have very interesting technology behind their products. I will let you know if it is yea or nay on my upcoming trip abroad.

Some people speed date, I speed travel! Delving into  intimate details,  one exhibit to the next, I gathered every brochure, postcard and pen in site.  This time around, the Asian continent won my heart.  I want to walk (and dance) along the Great Wall of China, photograph the world’s oldest and most historically important trade routes known as The Silk Road and not just watch the wonderful PBS documentary entitled, “In the Footsteps of Marco Polo”.  I want to explore Malaysia with a video camera showcasing  their healthcare and be one of the many tourists now allowed into Myanmar.  If exotic and far off places are calling to you but a fear to explore on your own is holding you back or if you realized that some of the most memorable moments of travel are when one goes off the beaten path with the locals then Tours by Locals.com  should be your next click on Google!

Armed with the maps and collages of my dreams, I then spent the afternoon in the travel seminars taking in the sage advice of experts in the travel field.  The Frommer’s revealed their top destinations for 2014.  Joseph Rosendo, award-winning travel journalist and Emmy-winning director, had an eloquence that wove together philosophy, mysticism, reality and a La Joie de Vivre! Joseph captured the soul of many beautiful places around the world. Having been in India, I sat in full agreement with him when he described this land in the following way: “India is waiting to grab you with its color and humanity. It shakes you up and delivers gifts. It is a constant invitation to live with joyous , unexpected life changing experiences around every bend.” Andrew Evans , National Geographic’s Digital Nomad,  detoured from the common held creation of a “bucket list” but rather suggested that, “Travel shouldn’t be a list we are working through but rather it should be a constant surprise!” “Spontaneous moments occur when we put ourselves out there and let things happen!”  He spent 300 days on the road last year and had amazing stories about moments…still, adventurous, scary and beautiful.  These moments are creating a life so well lived.

Mr. Rosendo began his talk with something I will use to end this piece.  “If one advances confidently in the direction of one’s dreams, and endeavors to live the life which one has imagined, one will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” (Thoreau).  The New York Times Travel Show establishes the path of beginnings; beginnings of dreams to travel, to gain wisdom and insights about the world  and in my case, to photograph. If held close, then I think we will live a life far greater than we could have ever imagined.

 

Kutztown Folk Festival: Video Alert!

The Preacher

The Preacher

The Expert Quilter

The Expert Quilter

I could travel with a camera 24/7 and feel as if I died and went to heaven! I have been so fortunate that so many people graciously allow me to enter their world and generously share different aspects of their lives with me so freely. It was like that when I attended the Kutztown Folk Festival celebrating the Pennsylvania Dutch Culture …a truly fascinating study. So many people shared story upon story of the traditions, medicinal practices, foods and crafts with me.

The term Pennsylvania Dutch refers to those who left Alsace, Southwestern Germany and Switzerland and settled in Pennsylvania during the 17th and 18th century. The dialect is a combination of Palatinate German and English. However less than 5% of the words are English and it is spoken by nearly 500,000 Pa. Dutch Americans, mostly the Plain Dutch. According to the tradition signs posted: “This is the cussingest language on earth! Here are just some of the compounds of the best known cuss word: Dunnerwedder:
(since I have no idea exactly what I am saying, I will only pass along one!) Himmel-Dunnerwedder!” (go on, get it out and feel better!)

The culture is divided into two completely different ways of life. The Amish and Mennonites represent a minority known as “Plain Dutch” and they separate themselves from the rest of the world in matters of dress. They are biblicists and strictly conform to the bible. Their approach to worship is very simple. They avoid revelry, waste and “worldly ways” with the goal being to be little and unknown, loved by God alone. The majority of PA. Dutch are Lutherans and reformed denominations and are known as “Gay or Fancy Dutch”. These members do not wear plain clothing nor do they refuse to fight in wars. Much of the folklore is derived from this group. Some of that folklore would be: Raisin pie is known as the funeral pie and was rarely served at any other time. Dinners after the funeral were known as “Sees-Koocha Schpree” (sweet cake spree). The camp meeting was known as the bush meeting. Bush to the PA. Dutch is wooded land. A small grove was cleared, a preaching stand or bush arbor was erected with rows of benches and since participants camped in the woods, the bush meeting was both a religious and social experience. It was believed that if it didn’t rain on May 1st, there would be little hay that year. Rain on Whitsunday (Pentecost) means few chestnuts and if there is rain on that day, there will be rain on the next seven Sundays…and it goes on and on and on!
National Geographic covered this festival twice, USA Today named it one of America’s Top Celebrations and The Washington Post called it a “Must See”! The festival runs from June 29th – July 7th, (2013) 9am – 6pm. Come to join in the celebration of the oldest folk festival in the US!

Honduras: A Return Visit


View Larger Map

Snow, rain, ice today and later this week, 102 degrees! Life is amazing. Happy to say that I will be back in Honduras to photograph/video all the progress that has been made at the orphanage over the past few years. Hopefully, with all that I have learned about video and upgraded equipment, I will be able to do them proud. I am so looking forward to seeing how these young men have grown and meet the girls and babies who are now also thriving on the grounds of Amigos de Jesus.

New York City Street Photography

New York City SubwayNew York City

IMG_1841New York City

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_DSF9965

Living in Philadelphia, I am just two hours (on a good day!) away from a city that truly “doesn’t sleep”!  Yesterday was a day with great friends.  Where else could we walk into a fashion store and be greeted with champagne and popcorn, walk down a street and have massive bubbles flying into our faces and see a man in his underwear strumming a guitar?  Going to NYC for a day can never disappoint.  Our first stop was an off Broadway show entitled, “How 2 B A New Yorker” .  A very funny play that in one hour will give the ENTIRE 🙂 history of NY along with  a play book for developing those instincts honed to street smarts,  a “love/hate relationship” according to the actors.  Then just walking those streets provides entertainment all on its own and for a photographer, I am in heaven!  After the meandering, we ended up at Fig $ Olive restaurant, (highly recommend and highly recommended!).  On each table were olive oils from around the world beginning a unique dining experience. We decided to go with their three course fixed menu: The  truffle mushroom croquette, pumpkin ravioli and the chocolate pot de creme won high praises from us all (cost $45.)

Thank you NYC for a day to remember with great friends!

Chinese New Year 2013

Philadelphia's Chinatown

The Friendship Gate

Woman in Waiting

On His Father's Shoulders

Store Owner Hoping for Good Luck

Lettuce, Red Envelope and Explosions

Preparations

Hoisting Up Hopes

Reflections

Mirror to Scare Away Evil Spirits

Little Buddha

Little One

All Set and Ready to Go

Going for the Riches

Explosions and Movements

Bringing in the New Year

The Crescendo

End of the Party

Firecrackers exploding to scare away evil spirits, lions dancing, the rhythmic beating of drums and lettuce symbolizing prosperity…The Chinese know how to do it so well; celebrating the New Year over 15 days and inviting everyone to join in this huge feast! February 10th was the start of grand scale festivities with the annual Lion Dance which dates back thousands of years. This creature signifies courage and stability. A mirror is placed on the face of the lion so that evil spirits will be scared by their own image and disappear. The movement of the tail sweeps away bad fortune. A procession starts at the temple and proceeds through the streets, going door to door to each business. Buddha teases the lion while gongs, drums and cymbals spur this massive animal on as it moves in a zig zag pattern (since everyone knows that evil spirits walk in a straight line)! According to Nations Online, “The dramatic climax of the Lion Dance is the “Cai Qing” or ‘Picking the Green’. The green refers to vegetable leaves which are tied to a piece of string which also has a red packet attached containing money. The string is hung above the door of the business, shop (or home), and the lion ‘eats’ both, the leaves and the red packet. Lying on the floor the leaves are ‘chewed’ by the lion while the musicians play a dramatic rolling crescendo. The lull is broken as the lion explodes back into activity, spitting out the leaves. This is a symbolic act of blessing by the lion, with the spitting out of the leaves signifying that there will be an abundance of everything in the coming year.
A shop, business (or household) being visited by the performers of the Lion Dance will have good luck in the year to come.”

May that be for us all!

Happy Holidays To All

Vietnamese Christmas PagentVietnamese Christmas Pagent
Vietnamese Christmas PagentChristmas BabyVietnam is definitely high on my “Places to See and Photograph” list but until then, I had a wonderful time photographing the Vietnamese Christmas celebration. It truly was a triumphant celebration of music, dance and prayer. Although I did not understand much of the language, it did not matter…we were all united in joy! This is my wish for you!

Our Lady of Guadalupe: The Faithful Celebrate

Parishoner

Parishoner

Still in Prayer
City Procession

Over the past few years, some leaders of the Philadelphia Archdiocese have become known for very grevious offenses. However, this past week, I was able to witness what the spirit of the real church looks like. St. Thomas Acquinas is a multi-cultural parish located in South Philadelphia. Members are from the Indonesian, Vietnamese, Filipino, Hispanic, African American, Italian and Irish communities. This parish is microcosm of the world. Although struggling financially, all are committed to being a beacon of hope for the neighborhood and the vibrancy of support and welcome is so palpable.

Five centuries ago on a hill in Mexico, Our Lady of Guadalupe appreared to the poor and abandoned. Speaking their language she promised protection and inspired hope. On a small hillside in the freezing cold, roses bloomed. The Virgin told Juan Diego to gather the flowers in his peasant cloak (tilma). When the flowers were laid out in front of the Bishop, there appeared the image of the Virgin of Guadalupe which was miraculously imprinted on the fabric. This cloak of a poor man touched by grace can still be viewed to this day. Over time, she was declared the patroness of the Americas and has endeared the largest number of pilgrimages in the world. On December 11th, in the cold night air, the people of St Thomas Acquinas processed over an hour and a half to the cathedral to join thousands of others filled with the same heartfelt faith,belief and joy. It was so inspiring for me to see the strength and faith of the men, women, children, old and young from all different cultural backgrounds sharing in this celebration. These are the acts that should not go unnoticed. Hopefully the video provided will give an small insight into the tremendous spirit!

Eastern State Penitentiary

Hands reaching out to grab your throat, chilling screams in the darkness, a cold that goes right into your bones and yes, people pay good money for this experience! Lines can be seen going around the block as people wait for admittance into a state penitentiary and a Halloween thrill. Eastern State Penitentiary located in the heart of Philadelphia at 2027 Fairmount Ave.
The website states: “Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers.”
“Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary,” a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts.”
“Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America’s most notorious criminals, including bank robber “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone who spent 8 months in a cell block adorned with oriental rugs, lamp, furniture.”

“Many people believe that Eastern State Penitentiary is haunted. As early as the 1940s, officers and inmates reported mysterious visions and eerie experiences in the ancient prison. And the ghost sightings have only increased since Eastern State was abandoned in 1971.
With the growing interest in paranormal investigation, Eastern State Penitentiary may now be the most carefully studied building in the United States. Dozens of teams visit to explore the site each year.” “Ghost Adventures” and “Most Haunted Live” are just some of the shows filmed from inside this historic prison. Visitors are treated to an hour tour of cellblocks, death row and underground punishment cells. “Terror Behind the Walls” has consistently ranked among the top 10 haunted attractions in the country.