Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Old Joliet Prison

(Joliet, IL) Hi  94 Lo 69 -- It's getting hot again. After a relaxing morning we decided to take a drive to downtown Joliet to look around. Joliet is the fourth largest city in Illinois with a population of 152,000. It's a very old city, and it shows it. The downtown area is kind of seedy looking, with overgrown weeds and not much in the way of landscaping. However, some of the larger buildings around town were built in the gothic style of architecture, and they look like medieval castles. A good example is the Joliet Prison, one of the most famous prisons on the country. It was built in 1858 and held inmates up until 2002, when it was closed due to budget cuts and obsolete conditions. It was made famous in the movie "The Blues Brothers," and the TV show "Prison Break." (Click on photos to enlarge.)

On the south side of the complex is the administration building.

The city of Joliet created "Old Joliet Prison Park" just outside the south end of the facility. This arched sign is the entrance to the park.

The "park" consists of a small patch of grass and a couple of benches.

Medieval-style turrets occupy each corner of the block-square prison grounds.

The long wall along the eastern side of the facility. The turret at the northeast corner can be seen in the distance.

This is the southeast corner as seen from across the street. The building on the other side of the wall is the prison hospital.

Close up of the hospital building.

The eastern wall.

The guard turret on the northeast corner.

Overall it looks like a pretty bleak place. It's a shame they don't have tours, or at least allow you to go inside. There are over 700 cells inside, and the prison population peaked at 1,300 in 1990, with a staff of around 500. It was very fascinating to walk around and think about what it must have been like to be locked up inside.

After that fun diversion we wandered back through downtown and made our way to Walmart to pick up a few groceries, then to a local RV dealer to buy a replacement cartridge for our water filter. Then it was back home to "rest up" from our "hard day." This is the life!


squawmama said...

It is a great life indeed! Loved the story and the photos.
Have fun

Mike and Terri said...

Cool pictures of the prison...
too bad you couldn't go inside. Now I want to watch "The Blues Brothers."

Sam&Donna Weibel said...

Tours could be a money maker for the cash strapped state. bet lots of people would go.
It really is a facinating looking building. Didnt know that they had closed it.


Dave and Maxine- Wandering Wingers said...

Oh wow! That would have been great if you could have gone inside. I can just picture the inmates 100 years ago banging their cups on the bars yelling, Hey Screw!