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The Rural Cemetery Movement: The Origins of Cemeteries Like Yours


The “rural cemetery movement” started in 1831 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, when Mount Auburn Cemetery opened. Others followed in other cities, responding to many of the same needs and cultural priorities. Paradoxically, these “rural” cemeteries were anything but rural in our context; they were a uniquely urban phenomenon, albeit located outside cities in the adjacent countryside. Within a decade or so, the rest of the ten largest cities in the United States (and a number of the smaller ones as well) had similar burial sites—Laurel Hill in Philadelphia, Green-Wood in Brooklyn, Green Mount in Baltimore, and Mount Hope in Rochester opened such cemeteries by decade’s end, all with similar ends in mind that responded to similar emerging urban needs.

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