Today my lady and I went to the Eastern State Penitentiary in the northwestern region of Philadelphia, PA known as Fairmount. We both enjoy our fair share of history lessons, along with ghost stories, tales of old time criminals, and of course arts and music. ESP quickly presented itself as a rich provider of these elements from the moment we walked up on the joint's thirty foot castle walls.
Entering through the one and only entrance (with the exception of a small escape tunnel that was dug by inmates in 1945) we began our scheduled tour. There were long eerie cells blocks all radiating outward from a central lookout hub, as well as paint chipped ceilings, rusted nineteenth century plumbing, and the expected remnants of an aged prison.
There are ghost stories about this place available, a peek into Al Capone's cell, and countless other attractive features included in the tours of ESP. Of all the stories they tell, they leave out one story I really like. It's the story of the video for the most commercially successful song by Philly fun punk pioneers The Dead Milkmen. The song is one we all know and love: "Punk Rock Girl" off of the Milkmen's 1988 album Beelzebubba .
The iconic video for this song was clearly filmed on location at the Eastern State Penitentiary. The prison was abandoned from 1971 -1994, so the filming of the video took place during a time when the prison was even more run down than what we experienced today. The most noticeable difference being the now cleared courtyards and hallways that were then filled with tall trees and plant life. I kept an eye out for other recognizable areas of the prison that I remember from the video and noticed quite a lot - including the "Worship Room" that is punk rock girl's "parents' house" in the music video.
All in all it was an amazing experience and my only regret is not checking it out sooner. My lady and I went to a pizzeria afterwards but didn't order hot tea and I didn't get her a fudge banana swirl, but she DID leave with a pretty sweet souvenir featuring "Pep" the prison dog, and a great memory of a really amazing place.