Halloween for Grownups: Pop-Up Bars, Spooky Soirées and More Philly Haunts

september 22, 2022

Tours at Laurel Hill Cemetery
There’s no better time of year for a scary stroll than October, and there’s no better place for it than a historic graveyard. Laurel Hill is offering all sorts of spooky tours, including their classic Halloween flashlight tours. See their whole calendar of events and choose a perfectly macabre tour here.

Gravediggers’ Ball
This annual fundraiser of Friends of Laurel Hill Cemetery invites guests to come in costume or masquerade attire (and there are costume contests!), so if you’re looking for a spooky and swanky evening for a good cause, this one’s for you. The ticket cost benefits a good cause, but if the $250 price tag is too rich for your blood (Halloween pun intended), there’s also a $95 “Graveyard Shift” option for ages 21 to 40 to attend from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.
$95-$500; October 21st, 7 p.m.-midnight, Masonic Temple, 1 North Broad Street.

Arboretum director testifies on benefits of public gardens to state tourism

september 20, 2022

The committee hearing held last Friday focused on the role and impact of public gardens in tourism in Pennsylvania and was held at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square. Sclar, the former executive director of the American Public Gardens Association, is the new H.O. Smith Endowed Director of The Arboretum at Penn State.

Sclar noted that an estimated 120 million people visit public gardens across the country every year — almost as much as attendance for all major professional sports combined. An estimated 4.5 million people visit public gardens in Pennsylvania each year, he said.

Also testifying Friday on behalf of the Pennsylvania Public Horticulture Coalition were Keith Kaiser, CEO of the Pittsburgh Botanic Garden, Nick D’ Addezio, marketing vice president of Longwood Gardens, and Nancy Goldenberg, president and CEO of Laurel Hill, a historic cemetery and garden in Philadelphia. Several regional tourism bureaus, as well as representatives from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development also gave testimony.

Bike DelCo: Pushing the Edges of Possibility

september 20, 2022

In the past half-year, Bike Delaware County has grown to become a regular presence in Delaware County. We have assembled a fourteen-member action team, hosted two rides in the spring and are co-sponsoring at least 3 in the fall, and have begun outlining areas of intervention for safe bicycling–the many “Edges of Possibility” Delco has to offer. Our rides involve routes stitched together through individual trial-and-error, community-generated routes that are gaining increasing Township approvals like the Main Line Greenway, and bona-fide bike trails in the works throughout the county. As a McSweeney’s piece recently implied, we have a lot of work to do to make biking safe in this country, and that includes making bicyclists’ presence known and normal to residents.

In April, a group of about three dozen people gathered in support of the Main Line Greenway, a low-stress, grass-roots bicycle route connecting a variety of side streets and trails in Montgomery and Delaware Counties. The route extends between West Laurel Hill Cemetery on the eastern end and Stoneleigh Gardens on the western end. The group rode the western end of the Greenway, from Haverford College into Lower Merion Ward 10, to Bryn Mawr College, then Rosemont and Villanova, before ending at Stoneleigh and returning through Radnor Township and Haverford Township. We had a wonderful mix of families and students, along with residents from all of the involved townships and boroughs. Special thanks to Lou Savastani, chair of Bike Montco, who volunteered to co-lead the 4/24 ride.

New birding festival set for October in Philadelphia

september 13, 2022

A new birding festival will debut in Philadelphia in October.

Audubon Mid-Atlantic will host the inaugural Philly Birding Weekend over the weekend of October 7-9, featuring some of the city’s iconic green spaces and birds making their fall migration.

As with most birding festivals, the new Philadelphia event will be heavy on birding field trips.

Laurel Hill Cemetery, a 74-acre, historic garden cemetery in the East Falls neighborhood of Philadelphia, will host a Saturday afternoon walking session. From its overlook over the Schuylkill River, 45 species of birds have been recorded during the month of October.

Your Guide to the 2022 Philadelphia Fringe Festival

september 7, 2022

Death is a Cabaret Ol’ Chum
This perfect segue into the Halloween spirit takes place at Laurel Hill Cemetery, complete with cocktails and music from the likes of Amy Winehouse and Sonny & Cher. Bring a blanket to clutch for what REV Theatre Company calls a “toe-tapping, spine tingling good time.”
September 9th-17th, Laurel Hill Cemetery, 3822 Ridge Avenue.

Cemetery Picnics: Try This Victorian Hobby At Laurel Hill

august 28, 2022

A vacation story highlighting a cemetery immediately sounds weird, odd, even creepy. Why exactly would vacationers elect to have a picnic meal in the very shadow of death? For many, it would be more puzzling as Philadelphia is not short of beautiful destinations where a delectable meal can be enjoyed in an ambiance of life in all its dynamic vivacity. In fact, there are some spots, five of them, that those who vacation in Philadelphia should avoid. It turns out that none of them is a cemetery.

Yet, if one is looking for something truly unique while visiting Philadelphia, a detour to Laurel Hill should form part of the travel plans. There’s a lot of intriguing history in this Victorian-era hobby. And the experience itself will be one of a lifetime. Here’s the good news: An hour or two at the cemetery will just be enough.

Cemetery Picnics: Tracing The Puzzling Roots

Less than two hundred years ago, Philadelphians would eat—and then rest in peace—as it were, among those who were also resting in peace. Today it would look bizarre. But in the 19th century, it raised no eyebrows. Established in 1836, Laurel Hill was the scene and theater of this practice, now almost entirely out of vogue. And it wasn’t just in Laurel Hill, or even in the “City of Brotherly Love,” as Philadelphia has come to be known. It was a practice that was taking place all over the United States.

Most Haunted Places in Philadelphia

july 16, 2022

 In Pennsylvania, the city of Philadelphia has a rich history and many haunted spots. The city’s many haunted buildings have old, haunting architecture that leads to ghost sightings. Some of the oldest buildings in the city are particularly haunted, including Eastern State Penitentiary. This article mentions the Betsy Ross House, Laurel Hill Cemetery, and Fort Mifflin. Read on to learn more.

Laurel Hill East

If you’re searching for the most haunted places in Philadelphia, you’re in for a treat. Philadelphia is the oldest city in the country and is home to many renowned ghost stories. From old mansions where ex-wives cried foul to historic cemeteries where fallen soldiers were buried, Philadelphia has more than a few places to explore. You’ll find unmistakable cries at night and even furniture that moves independently.

The cemetery is home to the graves of some of the city’s most prominent people. A mausoleum for a wealthy landowner, such as George W. Childs, is lined with the remains of new money industrialists and financiers. His family plot was next door to another one, the Logan Burial Ground, and he was the joint owner of the Public Ledger. Drexel and Childs later developed a suburban community, Wayne on the Main Line, where they buried each other.

Laurel Hill Announces its New Brand

july 13, 2022

Two of the Philadelphia Region’s Most Historic Cemeteries Get a Facelift
PHILADELPHIA (July 2022) – Historic Laurel Hill Cemetery and West Laurel Hill Cemetery and Funeral Home announced today the release of a brand refresh, including a new name, logo, and website. The new brand, Laurel Hill, is part of a larger strategic planning process of increasing clarity and greater connectivity between the organization’s cemetery services, funeral services, educational programs, and arboretum.

The new brand, rooted in centuries of stewardship and stories while embracing a future of growth and sustainability, unifies Laurel Hill East (Philadelphia, PA), Laurel Hill West (Bala Cynwyd, PA), Laurel Hill Funeral Home (Bala Cynwyd, PA), and the Friends of Laurel Hill. The brand platform is built on the organization’s three foundational pillars of eternal rest, recreation, and civic value.
“Our new brand brings a new dimension to our organization that clearly articulates who we are, what we do, and what differentiates us,” said Nancy Goldenberg, President & CEO of Laurel Hill. “With Laurel Hill, we now have a clear level of consistency across multiple communication channels which we know our audiences will find attractive and useful.”

Laurel Hill Cemetery Rebrands With New Name, Logo, Website

july 8, 2022

The new initiative brings together Laurel Hill East, Laurel Hill West, Laurel Hill Funeral Home, and the Friends of Laurel under one name.

The new brand, rooted in centuries of stewardship and stories while embracing a future of growth and sustainability, unifies Laurel Hill East, Laurel Hill West, Laurel Hill Funeral Home, and the Friends of Laurel Hill.

Historic Laurel Hill Cemetery will kill off its green Kelly Drive hillside — in order to save it

May 19, 2022

Thousands of motorists, cyclists, runners, and rowers pass the historic Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia that rises 45 feet atop a steep slope overlooking Kelly Drive — the graveside monuments and headstones poking out from above as if guardians of the Schuylkill below.

Starting next week, that one-acre green slope at Kelly Drive and West Hunting Park Avenue will start turning brown as it gets defoliated with herbicides and by hand. The goal: Create a new meadow the cemetery’s owner believes will be more natural to the area, result in a haven for native bees and birds, help with erosion, and give passersby a more colorful view. Plus a granite outcrop that gives a commanding view of the river will be exposed for the first time in decades when ivy and other vegetation are gone.

“It’s a very unusual project. And we want to make sure the public is aware of what we are doing,” Nancy Goldenberg, president and CEO of Laurel Hill Cemetery, said during a walk Tuesday along the base of the slope. “I see thousands of people driving by or biking here every day. And this could all be gorgeous.”

22 Women to Watch in 2022

May 11, 2022

Nancy Goldenberg
President and CEO, Laurel Hill Cemetery and West Laurel Hill Cemetery and Funeral Home

As president and CEO of Laurel Hill Cemetery, Goldenberg seeks to create memorable experiences in new, gratifying ways among the diverse collection of art, history and horticulture in the company’s cemeteries. This year, she will continue to lead a team of caring professionals and insightful civic leaders who have positioned Laurel Hill as a model organization in an industry that continues to evolve.

What skills are you cultivating or exploring in 2022? 

As some of the largest properties in urban areas, cemeteries are making a comeback, playing a greater role in supporting physical and mental health. Like so many cemeteries around the country, Laurel Hill experienced a record number of visitors over the past two years – partly driven by COVID-19 – as people discovered our safe and beautiful 265 acres.

We are among the handful of cemeteries nationally renowned for producing one-of-a-kind memorable, place-based experiences that people crave. As a repository of literally thousands of stories of buried souls, remarkable outdoor sculpture and an extraordinary history within a garden landscape, we have the capacity to tell unique narratives visitors find interesting and relevant. To that end, this year we are looking to improve our infrastructure and hone our hospitality services. We are working to become more operationally resilient by investing in technology and training. We’re also planning to launch a new brand and more creatively package and market our offerings to continue building new audiences who will engage with and trust us and remain loyal users.

An urban planning leader finds new life as the head of two historic Philadelphia cemeteries.

April 26, 2022

For someone who spent 35 years working to improve people’s quality of life, taking a leadership role in the death industry might seem like an odd move.

The job opportunity gave Nancy Goldenberg GCP’80 brief pause, too, before she joined Laurel Hill Cemetery and West Laurel Hill Cemetery & Funeral Home in 2018 as their first female president and CEO. “After thinking about it, I realized, ‘Wow, this is everything wrapped up in one for me,’” Goldenberg says. “Pretty much the only thing I hadn’t had experience in was the death industry, which is actually very interesting, creative, and innovative. And it’s all about the use of land. So I’m really loving my job.”

The stunning rise of cremation reveals America’s changing idea of death

April 19, 2022

In 2020, 56 percent of Americans who died were cremated, more than double the figure of 27 percent two decades earlier, according to the Cremation Association of North America (CANA). By 2040, 4 out of 5 Americans are projected to chose cremation over casket burial, according to both CANA and the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA).

This seismic shift represents potentially severe revenue losses for the funeral industry. It’s leading innovators to create a growing number of green alternatives and other choices that depart from traditional casket funerals. And rapidly shifting views about disposing with bodies have also led to changes in how we memorialize loved ones — and reflect an increasingly secular, transient and, some argue, death-phobic nation.

13 Cool Things to See & Do in Fairmount Park

March 25, 2022

In 1835, Quaker John Jay Smith was so upset with the burial situation in Philadelphia that he conspired with friends to conceive of a new cemetery, set in a picturesque location and without any religious affiliation. Laurel Hill Cemetery was founded in 1836 and is the final resting place of notable Philadelphians like David Rittenhouse, Civil War-era generals, Titanic passengers and even beloved Phillies announcer Harry Kalas. Marked by ornate tombstones and mausoleums, the cemetery is ideal for architecture lovers too. Among the extensive programmatic offerings are fun (not a word typically associated with cemeteries) themed tours, concerts and movie nights.

Philadelphia's Most Beautiful Cemeteries

March 21, 2022

Laurel Hill East Cemetery is justifiably famous. It was the second “rural cemetery” constructed in the United States, preceded only by Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston. Founded in 1836, Laurel Hill East comprises 78 acres of land and is home to more than 33,000 graves. Unlike The Woodlands, which you can tour the entirety of within a few hours, you could spend a day walking through the beautiful landscape of Laurel Hill and not come near to seeing it all. That is part of its immense historic appeal – it is a place that invites you to return to it again and again, and it is guaranteed that on each visit you will encounter pieces of this city of the dead you have never seen before.

Things to Do for Valentine's Day Weekend in Greater Philadelphia for 2022

February 2, 2022

If you didn’t think Philadelphia would go all-out for Valentine’s Day, you’d be sorely mistaken (It is called the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, after all). Laurel Hill Cemetery hosts a pair of loved-themed tours of the grounds to honor the holiday.

Walks for Outrunning Omicron

January 16, 2022

Irene Levy Baker lists the best walking spots in Philadelphia, including Laurel Hill. Laurel Hill Cemetery is also listed in her book, “100 Things To Do In Philadelphia Before You Die.” Purchase a copy of her book through our gift shop here.

PhillyFunGuide's Museum Store Holiday Gift Guide

December 9, 2021

The Laurel Hill Cemetery gift shop features a plethora of products representing their sculpture garden, arboretum, and important place in Philadelphia history.

9/11 Service Held At Heroes Memorial In Bala Cynwyd

September 11, 2021

BALA CYNWYD TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — Community members gathered on Saturday at the West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd to hold a ceremony for the day the world will never forget. The service took place at the Heroes Memorial with remarks from Lower Merion Township officials. Organizers said the event served as a reminder of our patriotic roots.

The best places to see fall foliage in the Philly region

October 12, 2021

Most people think of Laurel Hill and West Laurel Hill as historic cemeteries, but they are also an accredited arboretum, with many native and non-native trees. While both have fall foliage, arboretum manager Aaron Greenberg says the best colors are at West Laurel Hill, where visitors can enjoy long alleyways flanked by sugar maples, which are known for their bright red color, and by ginkgo trees, which turn a distinctive yellow color, then drop their leaves. 

Laurel Hill West Breaks Ground on New Jewish Section – Makom Shalom

June 10, 2021

Historic West Laurel Hill Cemetery announces yet another milestone with the official groundbreaking of its expansion to its first Jewish section of the cemetery.