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Two More Sections of Eastern State Penitentiary Being Opened To Public View

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(Kelly Otterson, Eastern State's tour program manager, stands under the lamp of an operating room at the former prison.  Credit: Mark Abrams)

(Kelly Otterson, Eastern State’s tour program manager, stands under the lamp of an operating room at the former prison. Credit: Mark Abrams)

Mark Abrams Mark Abrams
Mark Abrams is a versatile part of the KYW Newsradio family, serving...
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By Mark Abrams

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Eastern State Penitentiary historic site, in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia, is opening up two new sections of the former prison to the public for the first time this weekend.

Francis Dolan, Eastern State’s associate director for tour programs and site operations, says the exercise yard that was formerly used by Death Row inmates and the prison’s hospital section, featuring a former working operating room (top photo), are being opened for the first time during restoration work.

“We’re inviting folks to go into the operating room and see how that space transformed over the years, see how it was used, learn a little bit about the history of surgery and medicine at Eastern State,” Dolan tells KYW Newsradio.  “And the space itself is incredible.  There’s this huge, old operating light that hangs from the ceiling.”

esp death row exercise yard  mabrams Two More Sections of Eastern State Penitentiary Being Opened To Public View

(The former exercise yard for Death Row inmates at Eastern State Penitentiary. Credit: Mark Abrams)

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The exercise yard — sandwiched among three cell blocks — is now littered with overgrown and felled trees, and bricks and concrete that have fallen away from one of the cellblocks.

Dolan says visitors will learn how the secure yard was used, and hear about the careful restoration efforts being undertaken in the newly opened section.

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