Eastern State Penitentiary

by Harlan, June 30, 2014

Athena and I spent the weekend in Philadelphia recently, and her interest in criminology and criminal justice led to our decision to spend most of a day at Eastern State Penitentiary.

I took the opportunity to revisit the grounds with my camera. The last time I was there, it was at night. Nighttime, and the fact that the prison was running a haunted house, provided a different type of feel. Athena and I visited during the day for a more complete tour and better view of the state of the penitentiary today.

Eastern State Penitentiary even offers special visitation hours for photographers, during the twilight, “golden” hour during the summer. I’m not sure the timing will be favorable for me to return this year during that time, but it’s something to consider.

Touring through the prison is depressing, as you would imagine. Many of the prison cells have been converted into tour exhibits and some are now art installations, but the vast majority of cells appear to be untouched for decades.

These cells are littered with broken furniture and an incredible amount of dirt and dust. The paint on the walls throughout the cell blocks is peeling off, and despite the lack of inmates, the penitentiary is more depressing now than it might have been when it was full.

On this trip, I used my Sigma 24-70mm f/2.8 IF EX DG HSM with the Canon EOS 5D Mark III. I took a few shots with the Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L Fisheye USM but spent most of my time with the Sigma. The results are below.

I am now selling several prints of the photographs from Eastern State Penitentiary. Visit the shop, and if you’d like to order a photograph that’s not listed in the shop, use the form below.

Use the form below to add a photograph to your shopping cart. Be sure to note which photograph you want. Once a photograph is added to your cart, you will return here, and you can add another at that time.

About digital prints. Chromira prints are produced by a high-quality print shop in the Princeton area. Metal prints and canvas prints are produced in New York City.

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5 Comments


    • Shari Berman Landes
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    • June 30, 2014

    Beautiful images - evocative and so sad - scary too, for me. I wonder about the room with radio console and upholstered chair - warden's room? I will look at these and ponder them again and again. Nice job!

    • Carol Gardella Schwartz
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    • June 30, 2014

    Great images, Harlan. I especially like # 7, 10, 18 and 27.

    • Harlan Landes
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    • June 30, 2014

    That is actually Al Capone's cell. His celebrity allowed him some luxuries...

    • Harlan Landes
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    • July 1, 2014

    Thanks, Carol!

  • Amazing photos! So haunting and eerie.....I see a ghost in picture 11!

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