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History 222x315The founding of Woodlawn Cemetery in 1876 represented the flourishing of the rural cemetery movement in Toledo. Urban planners in America had begun to establish rural cemeteries on the outskirts of cities in the 1830s as one way of addressing the problems of overcrowding, public health risks and lack of leisure space in rapidly growing cities. Many urban graveyards had become offensive - depressing, neglected and crowded - causing observers to describe some as little more than "stinking quagmires." They also failed to provide the dead with a permanent resting place because as cities grew and relatives moved away, land-hungry developers often seized the properties and uprooted the dead. (Note 1)

Beginning in the United States with the establishment of Mount Auburn, near Cambridge, Massachusetts, rural cemeteries proliferated during the 1830s. Careful planning characterized the new burial grounds, which were originally built outside cities on large tracts. Designers emphasized nature and art with landscapes that included winding paths, lakes, gently undulating land, trees and originality of monuments. Americans were able to beautify and sentimentalize the rituals associated with death through the architecture, layout and iconography of rural cemeteries. The lush landscapes promoted inspirational healing as the living paid their respects to the dead while contemplating life in pleasurable natural surroundings complemented by graceful architecture. (Note 2)

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