What Does Poe and a Philly Cheesesteak Have in Common?

Ever since I found out that the National Park Service preserved (one of) Edgar Allan Poe’s Philadelphia homes, I’ve been wanting to adventure there. Due to the pressing need to do some Philadelphia research (more on this later), we finally went and explored it on Saturday.

Fun Facts about Poe and Philadelphia:

  • Poe lived in Philadelphia for six years and they were his most productive, successful, and happiest years.
  • While in the city, he published The Tell-Tale Heart and The Black Cat.
  • It was while living in Philadelphia, it’s believed, that he wrote The Raven.
  • He lived in five different homes in his six years there.
  • A lot of the murders highlighted in Philadelphia newspapers at the time (has Philly ever been safe?) served as inspiration

Due to “the lack of primary evidence describing [the interior design] during Poe’s occupancy,” all the rooms are empty and the walls bare, which gave it a pretty creepy feeling, especially in the basement. The only objects in the rooms were photocopies of some of his poems and stories, loose-leaf and scattered on the shelves and in the closets, some strangely out-of-place photocopies of airplane drawings, and, even more out-of-place, this stuffed monkey.

Why is there a monkey in Poe’s closet??

It’s a small house, so it only took about an hour to properly explore and read all the museum materials. I’d definitely recommend stopping in if you’re in the Philadelphia area.

On a side note: after seeing The Raven in theaters a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but imagine John Cusack wandering moodily around the house.

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11 thoughts on “What Does Poe and a Philly Cheesesteak Have in Common?

  1. subtlekate says:

    I do want to see The Raven but It’s not out here and not looking likey I’m afraid. Not enough Poe fans on this side of the pacific. Bunch of heathens. I’m going to have to wait for the DVD.

    • hannahkarena says:

      It was pretty good, but I’m not sure I’d recommend spending money on a movie ticket for it. Perfectly acceptable to wait for the DVD and watch it in the privacy of your heathen-less living room :]

  2. simonreadbooks says:

    Fantastic . . . I’ve always wanted to visit the Poe house. I actually have a list of literary landmarks I want to visit, including Hemingway’s house in Key West and Ian Fleming’s house in Jamaica.

    Not sure about the monkey in the closet; a raven would have been more suitable.

    • hannahkarena says:

      Maybe you could swing it so those visits are “business trips,” for “writing” and “research,” you know? Key West and Jamaica sound amazing. The Mark Twain house in Hartford is worth visiting; really well preserved and HUGE.

      They had a raven statue outside, which made sense to me, but the monkey…maybe it was abandoned by a child? Maybe they heard something rapping at the door and fled?

  3. jpbohannon says:

    I live about 4 1/2 blocks away. One of the “curator/guides” is exceptionally good.
    There has also been a large rivalry between Baltimore and Philadelphia about who “owns” Poe. Last year there was a pretty serious underground movement to steal Poe’s body from its Baltimore grave and bring it to Philly.
    Poe would have loved it!

    • hannahkarena says:

      I loved the neighborhood when we visited–so calm and quiet–that’s so neat you live so close! Is one of the exceptionally good guides you, perchance? :] Were you there on Saturday? Maybe we saw each other and didn’t even know it.

      I hadn’t heard about the underground movement before. That’s FABULOUS. Poe would have been so pleased.

      • jpbohannon says:

        No, Hannah, I am not the curator nor work there. It’s one of those places around the corner that I really only see when out of town visitors come by. The underground movement gets a lot of press around Poe’s birthday or when one of the Philadelphia sports teams plays a Baltimore sports team. BTW, the Baltimore Ravens are the only athletic team named for a literary work.

      • hannahkarena says:

        That’s funny, I’ll have to keep an eye peeled for that annual debate. I didn’t realize the Ravens were named for a literary work–though the museum did tell me that the three mascots are named Edgar, Allan, and Poe, which is amazing, in my opinion! I wonder how Poe would have felt about the sports association!

      • jpbohannon says:

        Modern sport and its merchandising is so bizarre that I don’t think any 19th century writer could get his or her head around it. What’s next the “Amherst Spinsters” or the “Hannibal Runaways”? Edgar Allan is rolling in his grave…whereever it happens to be!

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