During the Industrial Revolution people flocked to American cities. Overcrowding in these areas led to packed urban graveyards that were not only unsightly, but were also a source of public health fears. The solution was a revolutionary new type of American burial ground located in the countryside just beyond the city. This rural cemetery movement, which featured beautifully landscaped grounds and sculptural monuments, is documented by James R. Cothran and Erica Danylchak in Grave Landscapes: The Nineteenth-Century Rural Cemetery Movement. The movement began in Boston, where a group of reformers that included members of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society were grappling with the city's mounting burial crisis. Inspired by the naturalistic garden style and melancholy-infused commemorative landscapes that had emerged in Europe, the group established a burial ground outside of Boston on an expansive tract of undulating, wooded land and added meandering roadways, picturesque ponds, ornamental trees and shrubs, and consoling memorials. They named it Mount Auburn and officially dedicated it as a rural cemetery. This groundbreaking endeavor set a powerful precedent that prompted the creation of similarly landscaped rural cemeteries outside of growing cities first in the Northeast, then in the Midwest and South, and later in the West. These burial landscapes became a cultural phenomenon attracting not only mourners seeking solace, but also urbanites seeking relief from the frenetic confines of the city. Rural cemeteries predated America's public parks, and their popularity as picturesque retreats helped propel America's public parks movement. This beautifully illustrated volume features more than 150 historic photographs, stereographs, postcards, engravings, maps, and contemporary images that illuminate the inspiration for rural cemeteries, their physical evolution, and the nature of the landscapes they inspired. Extended profiles of twenty-four rural cemeteries reveal the cursive design features of this distinctive landscape type prior to the American Civil War and its evolution afterward. Grave Landscapes details rural cemetery design characteristics to facilitate their identification and preservation and places rural cemeteries into the broader context of American landscape design to encourage appreciation of their broader influence on the design of public spaces.
When Mount Auburn opened as the first “rural” cemetery in the United States in 1831, it represented a new way for Americans to think about burial sites. It broke with conventional notions about graveyards as places to bury and commemorate the dead. Rather, the founders of Mount Auburn and the spate of similar cemeteries that followed over the next three decades before the Civil War created institutions that they envisioned being used by the living in new ways. Cemeteries became places for leisure, communing with nature, and creating a version of collective memory. In fact, these cemeteries reflected changing values and attitudes of Americans spanning much of the nineteenth century. In the process, they became paradoxical: they were “rural” yet urban, natural yet designed, artistic yet industrial, commemorating the dead yet used by the living. The Rural Cemetery Movement: Places of Paradox in Nineteenth-Century America breaks new ground in the history of cemeteries in the nineteenth century. This book examines these “rural” cemeteries modeled after Mount Auburn that were founded between the 1830s and 1850s. As such, it provides a new way of thinking about these spaces and new paradigm for seeing and visiting them. While they fulfilled the sacred function of burial, they were first and foremost businesses. The landscape and design, regulation of gravestones, appearance, and rhetoric furthered their role as a business that provided necessary services in cities that went well beyond merely burying bodies. They provided urban green spaces and respites from urban life, established institutions where people could craft their roles in collective memory, and served as prototypes for both urban planning and city parks. These cemeteries grew and thrived in the second half of the nineteenth century; for most, the majority of their burials came before 1910. This expansion of cemeteries coincided with profound urban growth in the United States. Unlike their predecessors, founders of these burial grounds intended them to be used in many ways that reflected their views and values about nature, life and death, and relationships. Emphasis on worldly accomplishments increased with industrialization and growth in the United States, which was reflected in changing ways people commemorated their dead during the period under this study. Thus, these cemeteries are a prism through which to understand the values, attitudes, and culture of urban America from mid-century through the Progressive Era.
Examines the most important and controversial environmental issues in the history of the United States, from the Colonial period to the present. Describes the issues, the stakeholders of various positions, and both the immediate outcome of the debate, and the long-term consequences of the result.
Schenectady's Vale Cemetery was established in 1857 as part of the "Rural Cemetery Movement" of the early 19th century. When it was originally designed by Burton A. Thomas and John Doyle, it indeed was rural. Expansion of residential and commercial development eventually engulfed the area around the cemetery, and it is now an integral part of the city. Vale is not only a beautiful and well laid out cemetery-it is also a history lesson. Many of the residents buried at Vale made major notable contributions to American history in science, politics, military, literature, education, business and invention, and a host of other disciplines. Laid out among the 33,000 residents at Vale are many names found in history books. Among the millionaires and notables can be found the small business owner, tailor, soldier or iron worker. The book contains chapters on the burial practices during Schenectady's first 200 years of history, the development of The Vale over more than a century, and a description of the various plots, such as the Union College Plot and the African-American Burial Plot. Extensive appendices include short biographies of 101 notable people, as well as a listing of plantings throughout the acreage. Hundreds of photographs and illustrations make this an indispensable narrative to the history of the city that was once known as "The City that Lights and Hauls the World."