My best friend and I both love photography. Since high school, we’ve been packing up our gear and going on ‘photo tours‘ of sites around Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey. We both also have a deep interest in all things macabre, so when she asked me to go check out Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia, I responded with a resounding “Heck Yes!“
A brief history of Laurel Hill
Laurel Hill Cemetery was founded as an alternative resting place for the deceased, set apart from the dirty cramped church yards of the time in Philadelphia. Founded around 1836, Laurel Hill was designed to be both a peaceful resting place for the dead and a quiet escape from the city for the living with lovely gardens and sculptures to wander around while taking in the views from the Schuylkill River.
The grounds cover about 78 acres and, in 1998, Laurel Hill was given the designation of National Historic Landmark. Several prominent figures are buried there including many Civil War era Generals and six Titanic passengers. You can read more about Laurel Hill Cemetery on their official website here.
I didn’t know what to expect when we pulled up to the large gatehouse guarding Laurel Hill. I hadn’t done any research before going. My friend just said it was a really old cemetery. Once inside, I was completely awestruck at the beauty of this place.
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Visiting Laurel Hill Cemetery
Laurel Hill Cemetery is located at 3822 Ridge Avenue, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19132. The cemetery gates are open 365 days a year.
From May 1st to Oct 31st: 7:00am – 7:00pm
From Nov 1st to Apr 30th: 7:00am – 5:00pm
The gift shop inside is open 7 days a week, but closed on all major holidays.
Monday to Friday: 8:30am – 4:30pm
Saturday to Sunday: 9:30am – 4:30pm
A photo tour of the historic cemetery
I talked briefly in this photo tour post on Eastern State Penitentiary about photography styles. I’m obsessed with texture.
Sometimes I’ll go back and look at my photos of a trip and realize that they’re all close ups of cool things I’ve seen and don’t really give a feel of the place as a whole, so it’s really cool that my BFF gave me permission to share her photos with you. We have totally different photography styles. She loves to play with color and contrast.
A few of my photos, taken on a Canon Rebel t3i
Laurel Hill Cemetery is full of hauntingly gorgeous sculptures. We toured the cemetery in the winter when the trees were bare and everything took on sort of a darker, eerie look. We kept on the lookout for any strange activity as there are stories of hauntings, but we didn’t manage to catch anything.
Photos courtesy of Dark Star Photography, taken with a Canon Powershot
We stayed for most of the day, reading the different grave stones and studying the different sculptures and architecture. It’s a really great, quiet place to spend an afternoon. Laurel Hill does offer guided history tours and a bunch of events within the cemetery, so keep a lookout on their website.