No. 209 – The Hanging Prisons of Sin-Sin

Right panel, top: artist’s impression of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (photo: Alamy); right panel, bottom: Sing Sing Correctional Facility, New York (photo: Brett Weinstein)

Prog 165’s (1980) one-off futuregraph The 7 Wonders of the Galaxy[1] No. 4: The Hanging Prisons of Sin-Sin by Kevin O’Neill v the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and Sing Sing Correctional Facility, New York

The Hanging Gardens of Babylon are traditionally thought to have been created in the city of Babylon in Mesopotamia (near Hillah in present-day Iraq) by Neo-Babylonian[2] King Nebuchadnezzar II (c. 605 BC–c. 562 BC), and have been described as a spectacular, ascending series of lush, tiered gardens constructed for his wife, Amuhia (or “Amytis”, c. 630–565 BC), to assuage her homesickness for native Medea (in present-day Iran). Some scholars place the actual site of the Hanging Gardens at Ninevah in northern Iraq, which would have, at the time, made them the property of the Babylonians’ neighbours and foes the Assyrians, and as such the brainchild of King Sennacherib (reigning 704–681 BC); the two sites having perhaps been confused in the mists of legend.

Sing Sing in 1857

Sing Sing maximum security prison, however, is very much under the purview of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, and very certainly located in village of Ossining[3], about 48 km (30 miles) north of New York City on the east bank of the Hudson River. The prison has been in operation under one name or another since 1828, houses 2,000 inmates, and despite a brutal history is considered to be a model prison, due in part to its progressive educational and sports programs, and by whose standard other US correctional facilities are measured.[4]

Notes:

  1. Referring to the Seven Wonders of the Classical World: the Great Pyramid at Giza (Egypt), the Hanging Gardens of Babylon (Mesopotamia, modern Iraq), the Statue of Zeus at Olympia (Greece), the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus (Ancient Greek, located in modern Turkey), the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus (Ancient Greek, located in modern Turkey), the Colossus of Rhodes (Rhodes, Greece) and the Lighthouse of Alexandria (Egypt)
  2. “Neo-” referring to the Second Babylonian Empire (626 BC–539 BC), as distinct from the First Babylonian Empire (or “Dynasty”, 1895 BC–539 BC) founded by King Hammurabi (c. 1810 BC–c. 1750 BC)
  3. Both the village and the name of the prison are derived from the name of the Native American “Sinck Sinck” or “Sint Sinck” (Eastern Algonquian, lit. “stone upon stone”), a Wappinger tribe from New York and Connecticut, from whom the land was purchased in 1685
  4. Not, all things considered, a particularly high bar

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