Today we’re in mourning for Maurice Sendak. Author of such classics as Where the Wild Things Are, In the Night Kitchen, and Outside Over There, Sendak stirred the imaginations of parents and children alike with his gorgeously twisted illustrations and dark stories of adventures, calamities, and triumphs. 

Most folks know Sendak as a dedicated New Yorker, but not many realize that he had a close connection with Philadelphia. In the late 1960s, Sendak began donating his personal papers, manuscripts, and original book artwork to Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum and Library. Sendak strongly believed in the museum’s mission and values, and he worked with the institution for decades.

In Sendak’s honor, the Rosenbach announced plans today for a memorial exhibit opening on June 10th (his 84th birthday) that will highlight work from each of his books.

This is the perfect opportunity for Sendak devotees to celebrate the crabby author’s work while exploring a fascinating city. The museum is set in Philly’s historic Rittenhouse Square area, a gateway to some of the best sights the City of Brotherly Love has to offer.

Rittenhouse itself can be a bit of a glitzy tourist trap, but the surrounding small side streets are replete with family-owned antique shops, indie bookstores (try Joseph Fox), quaint cafes (like the Last Drop), and some of the oldest existing homes in the United States. Like this one.

 

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On sunny weekends, locals from all walks of life set up in the grassy park with a cup of coffee from nearby La Colombe or a scoop of Capogiro gelato.

Just a couple of blocks north, this colorful Chestnut St apartment is a great launching pad for a day of browsing all the Parkway’s cultural offerings, including the Rodin MuseumFree Library’s Central Branch, the soon-to-be-opened Barnes Foundation, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (just try going up the stairs without the Rocky theme song playing in your head).

 

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Within steps of Rittenhouse are some of Philly’s local-food superstars, including 20 Manning, Audrey Claire, Tinto, and Parc. You’ll forget all about cheesesteaks when you try the duck-fat fries with braised short ribs at Village Whiskey. And this place is around the corner.

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After a long day’s wandering, you can’t beat a beer. And you really can’t beat a Yuengling at Oscar’s or McGlinchey’s.

So if paying homage to Maurice Sendak takes you up Philadelphia’s way, embrace the local neighborhoods the way Max, Mickey, or Ida might have. And don’t forget to engage in a bit of wild rumpus.

We’ll miss you, Maurice.