We are outnumbered by the dead.
In Mt. Hope Cemetery alone there are more dead people than living ones in the city of Rochester. Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, and our city’s namesake Nathaniel Rochester are among the 350,000 interred in this cemetery. (The 2017 census puts Rochester’s living population at roughly 208,000).
A historic landmark, Mt. Hope Cemetery is an expansive 196 acres of lofty hills, Victorian-style buildings, and picturesque valleys. In addition to historical figures, several members of UR’s community — including president Martin Brewer Anderson and the University’s first president, Benjamin Rush Rhees — are buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery.
Growing up, I was always hesitant to walk in a graveyard. Even grown-up, I was still not prepared to set foot in such a mysterious and spooky place. Who could blame me? Just thinking about walking around a bunch of dead people is unnerving.
I was terrified to get close to this cemetery. But my curiosity couldn’t be stopped. And I could not ignore the fact that I was a UR student now, and checking out this cemetery would help me learn more about the city I’m living in.
As I walked through the cemetery, I was very careful, calculating each step, making sure no ghosts were after me and no bodies were resurrecting. Walking deeper in, I noticed the tombstones and obelisks that stood on the left and right. The architecture was truly astounding. Some tombstones were crumbled with the weathering of several years. Others were smooth and immaculate with new black writing and surrounded by floral tributes. There was one part in particular that really stuck with me. It was a rustic rusty walkway, made of bricks. It acted like a gate connecting the past to the present — the older graves to newer graves. The mausoleums, the various architecture, and the eerie silence made it an interesting experience. Overall, though, there was no doubt that this cemetery looked astounding. As a student who was fearful of walking in, my opinions were transformed when I walked out, and I came to appreciate Mt. Hope Cemetery for its beauty and extraordinary Victorian styled statues.
For students or people of the Rochester City who might be freaked out by cemeteries, I would still suggest walking through Mt. Hope Cemetery. People are not joking when they say this is a beautiful place. It’s not as daunting as it seems and can be a place to de-stress about schoolwork. Take your friends as well! I caution you, though, because if you are lazy like me, be prepared to walk a lot up hilly areas. Developed by glaciers, there is an expanse of hills, valleys, swamps, and heavily wooded areas.
Even though I was lazy and fearful, I still took the time to walk through the cemetery. I came to appreciate it for its history and its beauty.