Eastern State Penitentiary: Hospital
After a few months of thinking that I needed to check out the newly-opened hospital wing of Eastern State Penitentiary, I finally headed to Philadelphia for the day to do just that. I had been to Eastern State only once, but it's been high on my list of places to revisit ever since.
When David and I visited Philly last year, we took Amtrak. I've returned on two solo trips since (including my visit to Mount Moriah in the spring), and both times I've taken regional transit which is about twice as long but one-third as expensive as Amtrak. To get from NY to Philly via regional rail I took a NJ transit train from Penn Station (ugh) to Trenton, and then a SEPTA train from Trenton to the 30th Street Philadelphia station (which is basically Philly's version of Grand Central and 10,00000000 x better than the current Penn Station). Once in Philly I just walked to Eastern State, although I've used Uber a few times and it was cheaper than it is here in New York—my 30 minute ride back to the train station was under $4 (tip included).
One of the things I love most about ESP is that you can wander throughout the grounds on your own—I prefer to go at my own (snail's) pace and always feel rushed on guided tours. I had a mini-freak out when I arrived at ESP to find that the hospital wing appeared closed, and when I inquired about it I was told that it was open by tour only. Luckily, the short "Hand on History" tours are included in your admission price and occur frequently throughout the day, so I didn't have to wait long to (finally!) get inside of cellblock 3.
Eastern State Penitentiary opened in 1829, and cellblock 3 was part of the original plan. The hospital wing transformed throughout the years to keep up with disease and changing therapies, and included an "operating room, laboratories, pharmacy, X-ray lab, hydrotherapy rooms, psychiatric department and a solarium for treating tuberculosis patients."
I did feel a bit rushed during the tour—which lasted about 20 minutes—but only because I'm a slow creep who travelled three hours by train just to see a long-abandoned hospital wing and I could've spent much longer just soaking it all in.
Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Open daily, 10am-5pm, Tours of the hospital wing every half-hour or so.