Post 1-
I started my faculty study grant early this morning with a 6 a.m. flight to Philadelphia. If my airport experience is any indication, I am in for a pleasant trip. The flight was early, so the security line was virtually non-existant. My phone boarding pass registered on the scanner on the first try. And most importantly, the departure gate was the first gate inside the checkpoint. None of this walking a mile to a gate at the edge of a DFW terminal. RIGHT INSIDE THE GATE!!

The flight went perfectly and the train line/subway was easy to navigate and not crowded at all. I grabbed lunch to go and headed toward my first destination. Along the way, I stumbled across a little park featuring a bust of Benjamin Franklin titled Keys to Community (zooming in will show the keys detailed into the clothing of the bust. The park was empty and shaded, so I sat by the fountain and ate before continuing on my way to the National Constition Center.

The National Constitution Center was established by Congress to disseminate to We the People, all the necessary history and content of the United States Constitution. I started my visit with the Freedom Rising exhibit, which is a life performance/film covering America’s push for freedom and the development of the Constitution. There were a lot of small exhibits including scale replicas of the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Capitol, and White House, artifacts dug up from the National Constitution Center site, and an interactive Constitution Christmas Tree that tells the story of 100 Americans that shaped the development of the Constitution. By far my favorite exhibit, and one of the museum’s most popular exhithough, was Signers’ Hall, a representation of the Constitutional convention in the old Pennsylvania State House (Independence Hall). Forty-two life-size statues of the founding fathers who signed their name (and those who dissented) to the Constitution make for a humbling experience.

As I was making my way around the second floor of the center, I found a outside balcony with a great view of Independence Hall. I’m planning to start tomorrow off with a tour of Independence Hall, but decided to head that way anyway and get a closer look from the outside. On the way, I came across Benjamin Franklin’s final resting place at the Christ Church Burial Ground and an exhibit showcasing the acheological remnants of the President’s House, the original executive mansion. The exhibit primarily focuses on the paradox of slavery and pays tribute to nine enslaved Africans. After walking past Independence Hall I came across another unplanned find. Old St. Mary’s is described as the most important Catholic Church during the American Revolution. George Washington and John Adams both worshipped at the church in 1774 and the Continental Congress attended services on at least four occasions.

That’s all for today. I’m resting up tomorrow. My entire study grant proposal was built around the trip to the Eastern State Penitentiary, so I’m really looking forward to that.

Post 2-
Today was all about the Eastern State Penitentiary. The prison did not open until 10 a.m., so my original plan was to start with Independence Hall. Tickets to Independence Hall are free; however, there are a limited supply of tickets given out each morning. For a small fee, you can reserve a ticket online, so my plan was to order my ticket ahead of time and visit on the same day as I went to the National Constitution Center since they are so close to each other. However, no tickets were available online, so I was going to have to get tickets the morning of the tour. That meant I was not going to be able to do it on my first day, but would be the first thing on day 2. That changed, too.

Last night, as I was planning my routes and destinations, I came across Old City Hall, which was shared by the U.S. Supreme Court from 1791-1800. Because the Supreme Court is so important to criminal justice, I thought this was more relevant for me. Aside from the park ranger, I was the only person in the building (everybody else was next door at Independence Hall, I guess), so I was able to have a nice discussion with the ranger about the original function of the building and the Supreme Court in general.

Close to Old City Hall is The Signer, a statue commemorates those who devoted their lives to the cause of American Freedom.

The rest of the day was devoted to Eastern State Penitentiary, but there is one other bit of prison exploration that I did today. The Walnut Street Jail is typically credited as the first American prison or the first penal facility designed to hold offenders as the punishment rather than just hold offenders until their punishment is carried out. While the Walnut Street Jail is no longer standing, I had heard there was a historical marker at the original location. There is in fact a sign at 6th and Walnut and as you can read in the photo (which refers to it as the Walnut Street Prison), it was closed in 1838, just shy of a decade after Eastern State opened.

On to Eastern State Penitentiary (ESP). Included with your ticket is an audio tour narrated by actor Steve Buscemi. Aside from the audio tour, there are various other exhibits that have audio narration or interactive features. My primary focus on this tour was to learn more about the structure of the prison and the operation of the Pennsylvania System, which is one of the two styles of imprisonment in early American prisons. The Pennsylvania System is a “separate and silent” system in which inmates are expected to seek penance for his or her wrongdoings. This extreme isolation was designed in the architecture of the building, and I wanted to be able to bring that into the classroom to show pictures and explain how that was accomplished. I will share most of that in my presentation on All-Staff day, so I won’t include it here. The popular exhibits at ESP include a catwalk view, a look into Al Capone’s cell (he’s known for being incarcerated at Alcatraz, but spent 8 months at ESP on an unlicensed handgun charge), the 1945 Willie Sutton tunnel escape (in the photos, you can see the hole that was dug in the cell and the white line on the pavement from the cellblock to the exterior wall shows the path of the tunnel), and the Prisons Today exhibit, which provides information on mass incaeceration in the US and highlights efforts for reform (the included photo shows the extreme increase in US incarceration). The most interesting thing I found today was in the complimentary charging station. The charging station is an air conditioned room that has a few benches and books about ESP that you can read while you wait on your device to charge. The room also had a television playing footage from the prison, part of which included silent footage from 1929. It was an interesting glimpse into the prison at a time after the “separate and silent” system had been abandoned, but still cool to see.

Post 3-

Today was a travel day. I left Philadelphia this morning via Amtrak from the 30th Street Station headed to Penn Station in New York. Before I left town, there was one more thing I wanted to see. I had heard that the largest manufacture of hotel pillow chocolates was in Philadelphia and I wanted to check it out.

I didn’t have time to take the tour, but I learned something anyway. I thought all hotel mints were rectangular, but I heard someone say something about coins, so I guess they make round ones, too.

*Authors Note: I walked way too far to get that picture just to make this joke.

Overall, I enjoyed my visit to Philadelphia and found the learning experience invaluable. In particular, the information from the Eastern State Penitentiary will be extremely valuable in future classes when discussing the development and evolution of American corrections. I’m looking forward to New York and visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and learning more about 19th century immigration.

Post 4-
I started the day with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. I have been to the memorial before, but the museum was a first, so I was very excited to get started. The memorial portion is free to the public and contains reflecting pools that sit in the footprint of where the North and South towers stood. The names of each person who died are inscribed on the panels surrounding the pools. Two interesting facts I learned about this: (1) all names from September 11 victims are inscribed, not just the victims of the World Trade Centers; (2) the names of the victims from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing are also inscribed on the memorial.

The museum was a new experience and it is an incredibly humbling and powerful experience. I’m going to keep the description short because you need to go and see it for yourself. The most powerful experiences were the In Memoriam and the historical exhibition, September 11, 2001, neither of which allowed for photography. They tell the stories of the victims and responders and showcase artifacts pulled from the excavation of the rubble.

On the corner of Vesey Street and North End Avenue, not far from the 9/11 Museum is a memorial of the potato famine. The Irish Hunger Memorial reproduces a rural Irish landscape, including a stone cottage, stone walls, and a potato field. While the memorial doesn’t provide a lot of information regarding Irish immigrants in America, the potato famine led 1.5 million people to seek refuge in the United States. I would’ve liked to have spent more time here, but I also said that about every pizza place I visited!

Tomorrow, I am visiting Ellis Island to learn more about the immigration experience, but today I jumped ahead a little and visited the Five Points neighborhood, which was one of the most notorious slums in the world. Many immigrants coming from Ellis Island would have inhabited this area. Popularized by the Martin Scorsese film starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day Lewis, the Five Points was known for its dense population, disease- and crime-infested tenement buildings. I read about the Five Points in Tyler Anbinder’s book Five Points: The Nineteenth-Century New York City Neighborhood That Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World’s Most Notorious Slum. The streets that created the intersection for which the neighborhood was named have all been changed and rerouted. With a bit of intentional irony, the world’s most notorious slum now houses several government buildings that sit as a monument to law and order. The modern-day Chinatown, Little Italy, and Nolita m, covering Mulberry St., Mott St., and Elizabeth St. would have been an early stop for many immigrants.

Which brings me to my last stop of the day. 65 Mott Street is located just south of Canal Street in Chinatown. I read about the building in Anbinder’s book that I mentioned above. Apparently, 65 Mott Street, built in the mid-1820s, was the first building in New York built specifically as a tenement. I read a 2017 article prior to this trip that mentioned 65 Mott Street being one of several that were scheduled to be demolished to make way for a new condominium, so I didn’t know if it would still be standing when I went. To my surprise, the original building is still standing. While it might have stood out at one time in history, now it just blends in with the other walk-ups.

Post 5-

Continuing on the immigration theme, today I went to Ellis Island. Because Liberty Island and Ellis Island access are included on a single ticket, the day started with Liberty Island. Here are a couple interesting things about the Statue of Liberty and/or Liberty Island:

Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus” in 1883 to fund the pedestal fund campaign. Twenty years later, her sonnet was cast in bronze and placed inside the pedestal. “Give me your tired, you poor…”

Joseph Pulitzer, a Hungarian immigrant, conducted the editorial campaign that popularized the American pedestal fund campaign.

Alexandre Gustave Eiffel designed the iron skeleton which supports the statue.

Frederic Auguste Bartholm chose the site for the statue because he was inspired by his first view of New York harbor.

Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration is divided into three sections (excluding the research rooms): Journeys: The Peopling of America (1550-1890), The Ellis Island Experience (1890-1954), and Journeys: New Eras of Immigration (1945-Present). I spent most of my time in the Ellis Island Experience area, which includes the historic registry room.

Similar to the 9/11 museum, there is an abundance of historical documents and photographs and absolutely no way to absorb everything in one visit. My favorite exhibit in the museum was the Ellis Island Chronicles model islands that showed the growth of the island and facilities over time. I don’t think the museum is designed for high-quality photographs, but I think these are sufficient to show the island’s development.

In order, the photos show the development of the island in 1854, 1897, 1903, 1923, and 1940.

A couple other interesting exhibits were the Silent Voices exhibit and the Treasures from Home exhibit. Silent Voices feature a series of photographs that capture the island after it had been abandoned but before restoration efforts began. Also included were displays of equipment and furnishings that were found before restoring the main building. Treasures from Home featured cherished belongings of people who came through Ellis Island during peak immigration years (donated by family members).

The last exhibit I’ll mention was a small section on the detention of immigrants. Immigrants were primarily detained for medical reasons or if they they lacked funds or a railway ticket. In the photo, you can see some of the cards marked with S.I.-L.P.C. (Special Inquiry – Likely to become a Public Charge). These individuals would have to convince a Board of Special Inquiry that they could earn a living or stay off welfare.

Post 6-

The Lower East Side Tenement Museum has two buildings, one at 97 Orchard Street and the other at 103 Orchard Street. Museum access is limited to guided tours. There are multiple tour experiences, so I ended up choosing mine by which was available at the time I wanted to tour. I booked the Irish Outsiders tour and it ended up being a nice compliment to my previous study experiences.

Irish Outsiders tells the story of Joseph and Bridgette Moore, who moved from 65 Mott Street to 97 Orchard Street in the 1860s. Interestingly enough for those of you who have been following along, 65 Mott Street was mentioned in a previous blog. The tour started at the back of the building with a tour of the courtyard. The attrativeness of the building is based on the running water connected directly to the city’s water supply and the outhouses connected to the city’s sewer system. This contrasts with the well water in the Five Points neighborhood that would have been more prone to contamination.

Inside the building (no photography allowed) we saw one apartment that remained in a state of ruin and one apartment that had been reconstructed to show how it might have looked at the time the Moore’s lived there. The apartments were about 325 square feet and consisted of a parlor, kitchen, and one bedroom. For the tour’s information, the Moore’s were tracked through city records and through descendants. While there are major gaps of knowledge when it comes to the Moore family, there is a lot of information about who they were. This information is supplemented by the historical information we know about Irish immigrants in general, the conflicts rising from the historical area, including the draft riots, and the political climate of the time period.

Post 7-

Today officially ended my faculty study grant experience. I traveled back to Texas and after a busy week of constantly moving to the next thing, I look forward to getting back to normal life.

I took an early afternoon flight, so with hotel checkout and travel to the airport, there wasn’t a lot of time to do anything, but I tried to get as much in as I could. I started the morning with breakfast in Hanover Square in the Queen Elizabeth II September 11th Garden. The garden is small park in lower Manhattan that serves to honor the 67 Commonwealth subjects who died in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

From Hanover Square, I went down Wall Street to Federal Hall, the first home of the three branches of government. Tying in with the Philadelphia portion of my trip, Federal Hall’s steps are adorned with a statue of George Washington. This man is everywhere. It is at least the fifth statue of seen on this trip. As you probably know already, George Washington took the oath of office at Federal Hall in 1789 as the first president of the United States of America.

Finally, I headed up Broadway and over Liberty Street for a second visit to the 9/11 memorial. While I am glad to be home, I will miss looking up and seeing One World Trade Center towering above. Maybe we can get one in Cleburne!

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