Historic cemeteries rebranding themselves





The dinner was first-class, with butlers serving hors d’oeuvres and the strains of “Blue Danube” tastefully muffling the festive din. This nine-course re-creation of the last supper aboard an ill-fated ocean liner was the culmination of Titanic Day at Laurel Hill Cemetery, one of a growing number of historic cemeteries to rebrand themselves as destination necropolises for weekend tourists.

Historic cemeteries, desperate for money to pay for badly needed restorations, are reaching out to the public in ever more unusual ways, with dog parades, bird-watching lectures, Sunday jazz concerts, brunches with star chefs, Halloween parties in the crematory and even a nudie calendar.


Laurel Hill, the resting place of six Titanic victims, promotes itself as an “underground museum.” The sold-out Titanic dinner, including a tour of mausoleums, joined the “Dead White Republicans” tour (“the city’s power brokers, in all their glory and in all their shame”), the “Birding Among the Buried” tour, and “Sinners, Scandals and Suicides,” including a visit to the grave of “a South Philly gangster who got whacked when he tried to infiltrate the Schuylkill County numbers racket.”

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