Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site - Atlas Obscura

Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site

Tour the dark and beloved poet's former cobwebbed basement, which may have inspired "The Black Cat." 


He may have lived there for only a year, but Edgar Allan Poe’s former home on North 7th Street in Philadelphia is alive with the beloved poet’s memory.

Poe, with his wife and mother-in-law, lived in the little house from 1843 to 1844. Though Poe sat scribbling at his desk here for a mere twelve months, they were important ones - it was while he lived in this house that he penned two famous stories, “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Gold Bug.”

Nearly a century after Poe and his family moved out, an enthusiastic fan of Poe bought the house and opened it as a museum. It was left to Philadelphia when he died, and the National Historic Site was born.

Tours of the Poe household include a descent into the basement; it is speculated that this very basement may have inspired his story, “The Black Cat,” in which a man murders his wife and seals her up inside the walls of their cellar (his cat is accidentally sealed up as well, and its wailing alerts the police investigation of the corpse within).

The museum features three permanent and two rotating exhibits, and contains a wide array of displays. From a film on Poe’s life, to a reading room for perusal of his works, to recordings of his poems by celebrities such as Vincent Price and Christopher Walken, the museum brings Poe to life through the pages of his work.

Know Before You Go

Public Transportation: From Independence Visitor Center: (located at 6th & Market Streets) Walk one block west to 7th Street. Take SEPTA bus Route 47 at corner of 7th & Market. Get off at 7th & Spring Garden Street. From Seventh Street: Take SEPTA bus Route 47. Get off at Green Street (one block above Spring Garden Street)across from Poe House. SEPTA Market-Frankford Elevated Train (Blue Line): Take Blue Line elevated train to eastbound from 2nd, 5th, or 8th Street stations. Get off at Spring Garden Station. Walk five blocks to Seventh Street.

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