Behind the bars at ‘Orange Is the New Black’ prison on Staten Island

By Meghan Giannotta

Warning: "OITNB" season 6 spoilers ahead.

Turns out, Litchfield is right here in New York City.

For its sixth season, Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black” transformed Staten Island’s former Arthur Kill Correctional Facility into Litchfield’s maximum-security prison. Arthur Kill, a minimum-security men’s prison that shuttered in 2011, is now owned by Broadway Stages, and has been used as the backdrop for several other productions, including “Ocean’s 8” and "Blindspot."

Here's a look behind the scenes at the set of "OITNB," now on Netflix.

Wondering where Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling) will end up now that she's finally made it out of prison? Well, Staten Island, technically.

All of the scenes involving Piper's early release from Litchfield Max were shot at Arthur Kill. The prison's trademark red door and duel rows of fencing, topped off with barbed wire, can be seen behind her as she greets her brother, Cal (Michael Chernus). The only prop needed: a phony Litchfield sign.

Piper and the other inmates are discharged through Arthur Kill's actual entryway, that's now filled with a mixture of papers left behind from 2011 and set props. You can also spot the entrance in "Ocean's 8," when Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) signs out of prison.


The dormitories (cell blocks C, D and Florida, where most of the season's drama takes place) were constructed on a set at Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. But Special Housing Unit scenes, like those involving Gloria Mendoza (Selenis Leyva, pictured) were filmed within Arthur Kill's original SHU.

Elements from the SHU were recreated on the set in Queens for maximum security cellblock authenticity, like the sliding door used for meal trays, book deliveries and un-cuffing inmates. The doors to Arthur Kill's SHU rooms have been repainted since "OITNB."

Maria Ruiz, played by Jessica Pimentel, spends plenty of time trying to find her footing in season six. She attends church services and joins a religious group that meets regularly after she's convinced an attack that ended with her face in a toilet was a baptism.

The weekly religious meetings were filmed at Arthur Kill's actual Catholic Chapel. Crosses and religious paraphernalia were left behind from the inmates, while the seating was added in as set prop.

Ah, that now-infamous season finale kickball game. The finale -- and flashback competition scenes between series newcomers Carol and Barb Denning, played by Henny Russell and Mackenzie Phillips, respectively -- brought the cast to Arthur Kill's field last winter.

All is quiet at Arthur Kill without the chatter of Badison Murphy (Amanda Fuller) in everyone's ears. The field, which was used by former inmates, was monitored by several overhead cameras lining the prison's perimeter. A watch tower nearby served as an hourslong home base for the guard on duty.

You can spot the former gen-pop buildings behind the cast in the outdoor kickball scenes.

Let's just call Litchfield's ladies a tad bit lucky for scoring rights to the kickball game. The maximum security outdoor rec space at Arthur Kill is similar to that of "OITNB," yet far smaller. Fully enclosed in fencing, an inmate could have feasibly stretched his arms out to fill the entire rec space. Chips and carvings in the fencing, done by the actual inmates, are still left behind adding a level of authenticity to scenes. "Death to the rat" and "keeping it real" are some of the phrases on the grounds today.

The inmates also left their mark in the schoolrooms, dormitories and other spaces around the prison that haven't yet been retouched by film crews. A schoolroom chalkboard is still covered with doodles celebrating the Wu-Tang Clan and the "best prison roommates."

An alarm security system maps out the property. Building 47, the Special Housing Unit, Zone 1, the parking lot and entry, and field behind dorms H through E were used by the "Orange Is the New Black" crew.

Though not used for "Orange Is the New Black," the general population (gen-pop) dorms at Arthur Kill resemble that of pre-riot Litchfield. The prison's housing units are currently in the process of being restored and repurposed for television and movie sets.

"The animals, the animals, trapped, trapped, trapped 'till the cage is full."

The "OITNB" cells closely resemble Arthur Kill's 400 units, with just a metal bed frame, toilet and small mirror inside a space that's probably only slightly larger than your apartment bathroom.