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Pittsburgh: Finding Mister Rogers’ neighborhood

The castle from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe with King Friday XIII is at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.
The castle from the Neighborhood of Make-Believe with King Friday XIII is at the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh. Austin American-Statesman

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?”

You’ll find yourself singing this song through the many stops along the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood trolley of memories that pop up throughout Pittsburgh.

There are more formal tours of the town where Fred Rogers lived and shot his legendary children’s show, but you can go on your own mini-tour with just two stops.

Hit the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, where, in the MakeShop, one of his famous sweaters is framed in glass on a wall. In the Attic, you’ll find his comfortable shoes preserved in glass sitting on a bench.

In the Garage, find a Mister Rogers-inspired trolley where you can hear a story. Then head upstairs to find Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood puppets including King Friday XIII and Queen Sara Saturday, Henrietta Pussycat and Daniel Tiger, and X the Owl.

After that, head to the gift shop, where you can buy such treats as a mug in which Mr. Rogers’ jacket turns into his sweater when you put hot liquid inside.

Then head to the Heinz History Center, where the collection now contains sets and props from the show. While the items aren’t scattered around the center like they are at the children’s museum, you might have to hunt to find the exhibit. It’s in the Special Collections Gallery on the fourth floor, which feels like a forgotten part of the museum.

There you’ll find the living room set with a mannequin of Mister Rogers wearing his red sweater, tennis shoes and khakis. He’s a little creepy, but the set is really cool, and you can take a selfie with him — he won’t mind.

You also can find the Great Oak Tree, where Henrietta Pussycat and X the Owl live, and King Friday’s castle. You’ll find some smaller items near McFeely’s tricycle including Harriett E. Cow’s desk, the trolley, Henrietta Pussycat’s outfit and King Friday XIII’s photos.

It is a serious trip down memory lane, one that will make people of a certain age squeal with delight, while everyone younger than that will just stare at the squealers. They don’t have any idea what they missed not growing up with Fred Rogers as their conscience.

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