January 5, 2007


Please think of this as part of the time-honored Baltimore tradition of looking on the bright side of things, like naming our great NFL football team for the morbid-minded Edgar Allen Poe, or the way we take pride in our City's TV series like "Homicide".

Baltimore is very telegenic. Despite some unsettling plots, the city does look like a very cool place in "Homicide" and "The Wire", not to mention the various Barry Levinson and John Waters movies. So let's put Baltimore's murder rate in perspective and celebrate the fact that you and I are alive, and maybe my blog will even live on after I die and you quit posting comments. (Does anything on Blogspot ever get deleted? Why should it? Why would Google ever allow itself to run out of memory?)

Speaking of plots, Baltimore has some fantastic cemeteries, and the epicenter of cemeterial splendor is West Baltimore, where five major cemeteries are located virtually shoulder-to-shoulder: Loudon Park, Cathedral, Mount Olivet, Western and National.

The photos above are from Cathedral Cemetery, looking eastward toward downtown from east of Old Frederick Road and Athol Avenue. Baltimore looks so wonderfully green from any of these cemeteries, which should counteract our tendencies to perceive the city as some kind of concrete jungle.

But the sad part is that as we go about our daily lives, we actually tend to seek out the concrete jungle more than the green expanses.

Baltimore's cemeteries are a large and important part of our city's green space. They are the places where it is most possible to connect our city to the earth, something that is difficult to do when surrounded by concrete and development.

Our cemeteries are very extroverted places. While they are all surrounded by fences and tend to be limited to a single entrance gate, once you get inside, a vast world opens up and it is really possible to see how death and life fit together.

Our cemeteries are very diverse places. There is no single format or building code. Each has its own architecture from ornate monuments of exquisite or questionable taste to uniformly immaculate regimented rows. Some even have their own deteriorating graveyard slums which remind us that even the trappings of death aren't permanent. That which is sacred doesn't have to be neat and pretty.

Cemeteries are an important part of Baltimore and should be treated as honored centerpieces of Baltimore's inner space.

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