Sunday, May 20, 2007: Edgar Allen Poe and Chinatown
SM had noticed in her National Parks Passport book that in addition to the Independence National Historical Park, there are two other National Parks sites in Philadelphia. I did not know this. One of them is the Edgar Allen Poe National Historic Site. Neither SM nor I associate Poe with Philadelphia, so we were eager to check out the site.
Up on Seventh Street and Spring Garden is the only remaining residence of Poe and his family in Philadelphia. It was the last place he lived in Philadelphia, and he wrote and published several stories while he was here, including “The Black Cat.” We began our tour with an 8 minute video about Poe’s life, followed by a introduction by a Ranger of the first floor, and then a self guided tour of the second floor, third floor, and cellar. The house has no furniture in it, as Poe apparently sold everything but his bed to fund his move to New York. The Park Service is currently restoring the house to the state it was when Poe lived here, so right now it’s bare and needs some repair in spots. The only room with furniture is a reading room that was set up based on Poe’s essay “The Philosophy of Furniture.” Overall, it was fascinating. Oh, and lets not forget the raven statue out front.
From the Poe site, we headed south into Center City, in search of Chinatown. We had decided to drive since getting to the historic site by bus would have been difficult. So naturally, once we found Chinatown, we had to find parking. Chinatown was bustling with Sunday morning shopping activity, so it took awhile, but we were successful. Apparently SM has a parking angel. Bless the angel.
We walked under the Chinese Friendship Gate, in search of a dim sum brunch. We found it at the Imperial Inn on 10th Street. Yummy. This was only my second dim sum experience, and the first had been with a large group where they just put stuff on the table for us to share. SM is an experienced dim sum brunch goer, so I followed her lead as we selected items from the carts being wheeled around. By far my favorites were the steamed pork buns and the steamed custard buns. Delicious.
Our bellies full once more, we left the restaurant to walk around Chinatown a bit more. We ended up in the shopping district of Center City at Macy’s, located in the Wanamaker Building. Philadelphia being such a historical city, it’s not surprising that the Wanamaker Building has something noteworthy about it as well. The largest still operating pipe organ in the world: the Wanamaker Grand Court Organ. After some oohing and aahing over the organ, we figured we’d take a look around. I was in need of new jeans, seeing as the ones I was wearing were dangerously close to developing a few holes in not-so-acceptable places. Unfortunately, I had no luck in Macy’s, but SM found two shirts on sale, bonus for her!
From the Wanamaker Building, we headed into the Gallery shopping center. Here I was in luck and found some jeans at Gap, and bonus! they were on sale. The Gallery has a weird floor plan where you have to walk through stores to get to other stores, and the hallways all kind of branch in different directions. After getting very confused and turned around inside the Gallery, we finally found our way out. We managed to find our way back to the car again (fortunately we had parked near the Chinese Friendship Gate, a landmark on most walking maps and tour guides), and headed home.
After two days of walking, SM and I agreed that a night on the couch was in order. Besides, it was the season finale and 400th episode of The Simpsons. We couldn’t miss that!