My fellow prisoners, send me to the big house!
October 11, 2008 5:08 PM   Subscribe

For a project on prisons, I want to film in an abandoned prison. Where can I find abandoned prisons in a short drive from New York City? Short drive means ideally within two hours to keep costs down, but if there's something great further away, let me know.

Prison doesn't have to mean prison: if you know of an imposing scary structure, like an old mental institution or factory shell with barred windows, tell us about that too.
Thanks ask.mefi.
posted by history is a weapon to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
One of the more obvious options is Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, which is kept in a state of "arrested decay." You'll probably have to make arrangements with them for filming, but the legal issues (trespassing etc) are far fewer than with most other options.
posted by Tomorrowful at 5:14 PM on October 11, 2008

I was going to say that one too. There are a lot of interesting photos up of it on flickr.
posted by sanka at 5:47 PM on October 11, 2008

Eastern State is pretty far from abandoned at this point, especially during these next few weeks when it's mobbed with crowds that line up down the block for Terror Behind the Walls. Also, the prison was pretty extensively featured in 12 Monkeys, so it's pretty recognizable.

You could try getting into Holmesburg Prison in northeast Philly, where they did the gnarly human experiments. They're always talking about reopening it to catch the overflow from the other correctional facilities located nearby, but I doubt they will. It's like five minutes off I-95, very reachable from NYC.
posted by The Straightener at 5:52 PM on October 11, 2008

Also, the prison was pretty extensively featured in 12 Monkeys, so it's pretty recognizable.

And will be featured in "the sequel to last summer's blockbuster Transformers".
posted by smackfu at 5:55 PM on October 11, 2008

An old Democracy Now on Holmesburg Prison, including an interview with the author of Acres of Skin.

Satellite image.
posted by The Straightener at 5:57 PM on October 11, 2008

The Lorton Prison just south of the Beltway here in DC is abandoned... not sure of what hoops would be required for access.

There's a youtube clip about it:
posted by matty at 6:24 PM on October 11, 2008

matty, the Lorton prison has been converted into an art center. Not sure how much of it is still "abandoned" but from what I saw most of it has been converted to artists' studios.
posted by brownpau at 6:34 PM on October 11, 2008

Oh wow! I hadn't heard that and I live right down the road from it. Last year part of the prison (at least) was still being used by the military for 'interrogation training', but perhaps all that has passed. Sorry for the misinformation and thanks for the update!
posted by matty at 6:40 PM on October 11, 2008

Kings Park Psychiatric Center is rather photogenic, and about an hour outside NYC. Close to the Kings Park LIRR station.
posted by Marky at 6:48 PM on October 11, 2008

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