How to experience ‘Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood’ on the Fred Rogers Trail

Mister Rogers exhibit with museum guests

Photo courtesy of Heinz History Center

By Kalena Thomhave

May 23, 2023

Follow this itinerary for a beautiful day through Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in Pennsylvania.

Tie your shoelaces and grab your sweater. We’re going to explore the old stomping grounds of the beloved host and creator of the long-running children’s television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Fred Rogers was born about an hour from Pittsburgh in the suburb of Latrobe, and he filmed his renowned children’s show at WQED studio in Pittsburgh itself. Both cities have exhibits and memorials to honor the man everyone knew as Mister Rogers.

You can explore the Fred Rogers Trail, a journey across several destinations commemorating the globally known local icon, in Western PA in just a couple of days. And you’ll quickly learn why it’s always a beautiful day in the neighborhood!

Tour Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Latrobe

Your first stop is the small city of Latrobe, where Fred Rogers—the television host who spoke to children with care, respect, and kindness—was born in 1928. You’ll notice that Latrobe knows its history well: The street signs are emblazoned with trolleys and a city entrance sign reads “Welcome to the neighborhood.”

After exploring the town and admiring the charming neighborhoods of the city, you can even drive by the house where Fred Rogers grew into the man that became Mister Rogers. Note, however, that the stately house at 737 Weldon St. is a private residence that is not open to the public.

Also in Latrobe, visit a Mister Rogers statue at James H. Rogers Park — the park is named after Fred Rogers’ father, who was active in the community. The likeness of Mister Rogers sits on a bench, so you can take a seat next to him.

And finally, you can visit Mister Rogers and his family’s final resting place. Mister Rogers died in 2003 and was buried in his hometown at Latrobe’s Unity Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in the country. The family mausoleum can be found toward the back of the ceremony and is emblazoned with the name “Given.”

Fred Rogers Institute at Saint Vincent College, Latrobe

Saint Vincent College, a private school on a hill in Latrobe, is home to the Fred Rogers Institute, an organization concerned with continuing Fred Rogers’ legacy by investing in early childhood development. Most important for visitors, the institute’s top floor hosts an exhibit devoted to Mister Rogers and the influence he had on those around him. You can see some of his sweaters and sneakers as well as original pieces from the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” set, such as the neighborhood trolley and the Daniel Striped Tiger puppet. Plus, read informative gallery panels to learn more about Rogers’ life and also watch clips from the much-loved TV show.

The Fred Rogers Institute is only open Monday through Friday.

Ride a Trolley in Latrobe or Washington

The bright red trolley of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” that ran through the Neighborhood of Make Believe was particularly memorable, perhaps because it looked like it would be so much fun to ride.

While they can’t transport you to the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, you have a few options in the area to experience a trolley ride.

A similar but much bigger trolley shuttles visitors around the campus of Saint Vincent College in Latrobe. If you’re going on a campus tour, see if you can ride the trolley. You can also ride the Duquesne Incline in Pittsburgh, a red cable car that trudges up a mountain; it offers great views and is reminiscent of Rogers’ famous trolley. Finally, you could also visit the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington to learn about the history of trolleys in our state and take an opportunity to ride a real vintage trolley.

Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh

Head to the Heinz History Center, a museum in downtown Pittsburgh, for its exhibit entirely dedicated to “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” The children’s show was filmed in Pittsburgh. While some of the items from the set are at the Fred Rogers Archive at the Fred Rogers Institute in Latrobe, many can be found in the special collections gallery at the Heinz History Center. In fact, the museum in Heinz hosts the largest collection of memorabilia from the show on display for the public.

Large set pieces from the TV show will make you feel like you’ve stepped into the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. You’ll see King Friday XIII’s castle, Mr. McFeely’s tricycle, and the giant tree in the center of the neighborhood where Henrietta Pussycat and X the Owl lived.

Plus, there’s a life-like figure of Mister Rogers himself, putting on his sneakers in the very entryway set that the real Mister Rogers used.

Tribute to Children Mister Rogers Memorial, Pittsburgh

Tribute to Children is the name of a massive bronze statue of Fred Rogers, created by sculptor Robert Berks. Sitting on the northern shore of the Ohio River, the statue is nearly 11 feet tall and weighs more than 7,000 pounds — big enough for kids to climb on. Instead of merely a monument to Mister Rogers, it’s just as he would have wanted: A tribute to children.

Visitors can see the statue year-round. The site itself is an observation deck under a recycled pier from the old Manchester Bridge. You have a great view of the city from the memorial, which you can enjoy while listening to sound system audio of Mister Rogers singing his own compositions, like “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

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