Take a self-guided tour of the area that inspired "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood"

While I was studying the great and noble art of musical theater at Carnegie Mellon University, my favorite part of my summer at Carnegie Mellon University was that I literally lived in Mister Rogers’ neighborhood: WQED Building, Rogers The apartment that Fred Rogers and his wife, Joanne Byrd, reserved was located in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, not far from the university. But now you can do better than just stop in Oakland: With the Fred Rogers Trail, you can make a complete Mister Rogers pilgrimage throughout Pennsylvania if you so choose.

The idea behind Mister Rogers' Neighborhood aired its first episode on February 19, 1968, which means the show will be half a century old this February. So, in honor of the 50th anniversary of this beloved television show, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development has put together a three-day self-guided tour that will take you from the birth of Mister Rogers to the present day. .

"Each stop on the trail has been carefully chosen to be a unique experience with Fred Rogers," Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin told Pittsburgh-area CBS affiliate KDKA 2 ) relevant, making you feel like you're visiting Fred Rogers' own neighborhood ” “We feel it will be a guide to the places that touched Fred Rogers the most. ”

The full itinerary can be found on Visit PA, Pennsylvania’s official tourism website — so, as the site says, “Lie up your tennis shoes, zip up your cardigan, and get ready to walk in the shoes of a Pennsylvania legend One mile.”

The first day takes you to visit Rogers' hometown of Latrobe, located about 40 miles east of Pittsburgh. Admittedly, it was a pretty hectic day. There are eight tops on it, plus two additional stops. However, some stops are more time-consuming than others, so you can adjust your intensity for the day accordingly. The first stop is the biggest one: Idlewild & SoakZone, the amusement park that operated the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood of Make-Believe attraction from 1989 to 2013. The attraction takes the form of a tram that takes park visitors through the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Believe, meet King Friday, Ms. Elaine Fairchild, and all the other characters who inhabit this magical land.

The ride was removed after the 2013 season, but a similar attraction based on Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood ( the spiritual successor to Mister Rogers' Neighborhood ) moved in shortly after. Daniel Tiger is the son of original Mister Rogers' Neighborhood character Daniel Striped Tiger, and to maintain continuity, the new ride even uses the same trams, tracks and some scenery.

The amusement park is usually a full day event, though, so if you don't want to just go see the Daniel Tiger rides, you can always skip Idlewild and head straight to your next stop: Fred Rogers Center, Saint Vincent College. Here you can learn about the life and work of Fred Rogers and see some puppets, a neighborhood cart, and a collection of cardigans and sneakers that Rogers wore during the production of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Other stops on the first-day itinerary that can be driven or visited relatively easily include Latrobe High School, where Rogers served as yearbook editor and student body president as a student; High School (Latrobe High School). Latrobe Presbyterian Church, where Rogers was ordained pastor; a statue of Fred Rogers in James H. Rogers Park; and Mr. Rogers' gravesite in Unity Cemetery.

The next day, you'll head to Pittsburgh, where most of the magic happens: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was set in this Pennsylvania city from start to finish. The main stop on the second day of the tour takes visitors to the Mister Rogers' Neighborhood exhibit at the Senator John Heinz Historical Center. Here you'll see the largest collection of artifacts from the show currently available for public viewing, including the complete living room set where Mr. Rogers swapped out his suit jacket for a colorful cardigan and his fine leather shoes at the beginning Comfortable tennis shoes. of each episode.

BRB, a little tearful.



The Heinz Center also features King Friday the 13th’s Castle, the Grand Oak, and tons of puppets, so get ready to meet some old friends again. Afterwards, you can visit the North Shore's Tribute to Children Memorial, drive by Oakland's WQED building, and snap a photo or two on the Duquesne Slope - complete with a cable car that closely resembles Mister Rogers' Neighborhood Trolley.

Meanwhile, day three takes you to the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh to see more artifacts from the show, before leaving the city for Washington, Pennsylvania, about 30 miles south of Pittsburgh. In Washington, you can visit the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum, which displays the now-iconic "Grandparents" episode from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood . And, if you're really ambitious, you can use this day to detour to Buttermilk Falls in New Florence, a beautiful outdoor attraction with hiking, waterfalls, and picnic areas. Fred Rogers' grandfather owned the area from 1931 to 1956; he and his family traveled a lot when he was young.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood ceased production in 2000, with the final episode taped on December 1 of that year; a few years later, Fred Rogers himself died on February 27, 2003, after battling stomach cancer. passed away. But in the years since—especially, I think, the past two years—his message of kindness, care, and compassion has been more important than ever. As Ann Nemanic of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau told KDKA 2, “Generations have been influenced by Fred Rogers. He could teach kids in one sentence and make them feel like they mattered, that they mattered "As adults, we seek meaning in his messages," Jason Fulvey of Visit Pittsburgh added, "There's not much of Fred Rogers. In fact, our world today could use more of him." ”

Listen, listen.

If you'd like to tour the Fred Rogers Trail, head to Visit PA for the full itinerary - or, you know, just read about it. That's okay too. Because just in case you need a reminder: Mr. Rogers likes you just the way you are.