Tag Archives: Eastern State Peniteniary

Tackling Race, Gender, Religion, and Sex in Prison: Oh My!

The big gray brooding mass of Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

The big gray brooding mass of Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

Despite the winter weather, I’ve been traveling extensively this month around the country.  In Philadelphia I finally had a chance to visit the Eastern State Penitentiary, an enormous prison close the city’s art museums but otherwise oh so far away.  When built in the early 19th century, it was the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but after it closed in 1971, it became a forgotten ruin.  Today, a private non-profit organization preserves and manages this National Historic Landmark with an usual mission statement:

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, Inc. works to preserve and restore the architecture of Eastern State Penitentiary; to make the Penitentiary accessible to the public; to explain and interpret its complex history; to place current issues of corrections and justice in an historical framework; and to provide a public forum where these issues are discussed. While the interpretive program advocates no specific position on the state of the American justice system, the program is built on the belief that the problems facing Eastern State Penitentiary’s architects have not yet been solved, and that the issues these early prison reformers addressed remain of central importance to our nation.

In a way, old prisons are historic houses so I’ve been intrigued by the way these popular tourist destinations are interpreted to the public.  Eastern State is a significant contrast from Alcatraz Island, which Continue reading

Changes at Google+ Creates Opportunities for Museums and Sites

Okay, everyone knows about Google but Google+ and Google Places is still a mystery for many people.  It may become a bit simpler because the rumor is that Google Places is slowly being replaced by Google+ Local.  Or did that just complicate things?  Let’s start over.

Google search results for “historic sites in philadelphia”

Google has launched new search results that include the usual title, web link, and brief description, but now adds the address, phone number, shows the location on a map, a link to reviews, and a Zagat ranking on a scale of 1 to 30.  In the example to the left, you’ll see the search results for “historic sites in Philadelphia” and that the Eastern State Penitentiary (the third item) received a Zagat rating of 25 (it really is an amazing place) and has 81 Google reviews (wow! their visitors have opinions).  This new form of listing doesn’t occur for every city, just those that seem to have enough places to warrant them (right now, this list appears for Denver but not San Francisco).  Local information is being integrated across Google (including the Zagat ratings, which was acquired by Google last year), so you’ll find Continue reading