In Ossining, New York, a small museum remembers the early days of its infamous landmark. The maximum-security Sing Sing prison is a place so infamous it is credited with creating the phrases "sent up the river" and "the Big House."
Sing Sing began to hold inmates in 1828. Prisoners were forced into hard labor quarrying marble. Punishments included everything from silence to lashings. The original cell block still sits near the in-use prison, which is not open to tourists.
In the nearby Caputo Community Center, however, exhibits depict the prison's history in a make-shift Sing Sing museum. Its artifacts are at once unique and horrifying. Cells from the original prison let you imagine the bleak life of a prisoner. Plastic forks turned into eye gougers and steel twisted into a sharp edge represent the many weapons prisoners fashioned from available materials (and confiscated by guards).
Photographs show life in the old prison and the inhumane treatment prisoners received. Chills will run down your spine when you see the replica of Sing Sing's first electric chair, responsible for over 600 deaths, including convicted communist spies Ethel and Julius Rosenberg.