Street photos-april 19-Philly

Just a few cell phone pics I took on my walk earlier today. Have no fear, social distancing was practiced and mask worn. I think it’s going to be incredibly important for us to document these times for future generations- we are living history right now!
I am heartbroken over how many people I see on the streets with nowhere to isolate or stay sanitary. I often think of all the homeless people that spent their days in the bookstore I worked at downtown before we closed and wonder what they do with their time now, and if they are safe…

The man in the black and white photographs was so friendly-he was dancing in the window to reggaeton music blaring from a car parked on the street and he beckoned us over to take his photo when he saw Michael with a camera. Truly strange times we are living in, but on days like today when the sun is shining and the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, I’m reminded that life goes on.

port richmond books- philadelphia

When I stumbled upon this location during one of many “haunted Philadelphia” Google searches last fall shortly after I moved here, I was almost too late. The silent movie theater turned bookstore had article after article written by Philly locals bemoaning the impending permanent closure and probable demolition that, according to most sources was just days away!

The theater, built in 1913, was a local hub of entertainment for the neighborhood up through the 1950s. After it’s movie showing days, the building did time as both a vending machine company and a hardware store until it was purchased by the current owner, Greg Gillespie and his friends, in 2004 to house their growing personal collection of over 300,000 books.

By the time I made it in for a visit, he was selling books for just $1 a piece! Although much of his stock had already been picked over or donated, I still spent a good hour or so wandering the labyrinth of shelves and picked out several classics to take home with me. The store had a very cool, yet mildly eerie feel to it. Almost as if you were being watched, but not in a dangerous way, if that makes sense. The books were still organized, although a bit haphazardly arranged and in the main auditorium where the movie screen would have been- there were even more boxes of books and posters and furniture for the last few customers to sift through before the final close.

As far as paranormal activity goes, it’s no secret the owner himself believes the place is haunted. He’s even had several paranormal investigators out who confirm there is something there, although just what or who has never been made clear. Many visitors and workers have reported seeing shadows and hearing mysterious voices especially in the basement where the original organ for the theater remains. Mr. Gillespie told me he had spent many a night there in his time owning the shop and was actually incredibly distressed that the developers who had originally told him they were going to repurpose the building, were now planning on demolition. When I asked him what he thought the ghosts would do then, he told me that although most people think he’s crazy he was going to seek the help of some paranormal specialists to see if there was any way he could move the spirits out of the building and take them with him. I wish I could talk to him again to see how that went. It’s been several months now and I haven’t been back to see if the building is still standing, but online the business is marked permanently closed.

Until next time, happy wandering!

eastern state penitentiary-philadelphia

Let me start by saying that Eastern State Penitentiary is the one and only place so far, that I actually had my own possibly paranormal experience to share with you all( hopefully the first of many, haha!) Pretty much everywhere else I’ve explored left me at most, with weird vibes, but nothing concrete to report back.

If you ever visit Philly, I highly recommend you come take a tour. Even if you don’t care about ghost hunting, the history here is just phenomenal, and how can you say no to exploring a giant menacing castle plopped in the middle of the city right across the street from some hipster coffee shops. In my opinion, you just can’t. They have a self guided audio tour available and you are welcome to wander around on your own clock if you prefer. They also have tour guides that will take you through some of the “closed to the public” blocks if you time it right.

What I love so much about this place, is that although it’s technically a tourist attraction, it is still very much abandoned in feeling. But in a good way. While they’ve put a lot into making a huge chunk of this place structurally safe enough for visitors, and a great job on the educational aspect- they’ve left it alone enough for people to really feel how the decay of such a huge piece of social history works.

So above are some photos of the medical/hospital wing that was opened up by a friendly tour guide for us to walk through. Here’s my little creepy experience…in the last room we got to peek in, which was some kind of recovery room (i’ll include the photo of that below), we literally(the two other ladies that were on tour and myself), and I shit you not, caught a brief whiff of hospital disinfectant. The first lady who looked in there was like, um did any of y’all just spray some hand sanitizer or anything? None of us had, and I trust it wasn’t the tour guide messing with us. Although they welcome the paranormal side of things, it isn’t something they really talk about. They care mostly about sharing the factual history and story of the structure and the prisoners who lived there. So yeah, that’s my story. There is absolutely no reason for any of us to have smelled that hospital-ly smell in there as you will see from the picture below. So maybe it’s not the most exciting or spooky experience anyone’s had there, but it definitely happened and I can’t explain it. Here’s the room:

So I’ll close by saying this place is amazing and I’ll definitely go back once they reopen (after all this COVID-19 quarantine let’s up) with my camera to get some better quality photos to share.

divine lorraine hotel-philadelphia

This is one of those times I have totally mixed feelings about a restored building.. On one hand, I am incredibly happy that this historic landmark has been taken and restored to it’s former glory. On the other, I’m super jealous that I didn’t have an opportunity to explore it in it’s abandoned state and a little petty since it’s now privately owned, I wasn’t allowed to wander the halls to photograph as I pleased, or soak up it’s raw history at my leisure. I’ll get over it. I did manage to get a cell phone pic of the lobby, before the front desk attendant squashed my urbanex dreams.


In case you were curious, here’s what it looked like before renovations(PHOTO CRED: PHILLY.CURBED)


The hotel has a pretty wild history that includes the civil rights movement and a fanatic religious cult leader named Reverend Major Jealous Divine.


When he purchased the high-rise building in 1948 he converted the “Lorraine Apartments” into one of the first racially integrated hotels in the city(which is totally awesome!). His hotel offered jobs, affordable food and housing to those who followed the teachings of his International Peace Mission..the name doesn’t SOUND far out at all, but if you take some time to Google Father Divine, you might start raising your eyebrows a bit. It was after his death in 1965, a former follower, Jim Jones attempted to take over the movement-unsuccessfully so. He eventually started his own cult in 1971 that lead a 600 person mass suicide in Guyana (source:

Today the hotel has kind of a pop culture appeal, you can purchase merchandise such as towels with the “Divine Lorraine” printed on them among other articles of clothing online, and of course as of 2017 the apartments underwent a huge redevelopment and can now be rented out. The building now houses a restaurant and cafe. I took these photos of the exterior and hope to return to visit the restaurant in the near future. As always, happy wandering!