Dale Rio

Mt. Moriah Cemetery
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Nationality: American
Biography: I am a photographer who has been shooting and printing my own work for nearly thirty years.  I received an MFA in photography from Pratt Institiute in 1996 and a Fulbright Travel Grant and the Miguel Vinciguerra Grant in 1997.  Since... read on
Public Story
Mt. Moriah Cemetery
Credits: dale rio
Updated: 07/13/17
Archived as:  ,
Mt. Moriah is a cemetery in Philadelphia that was created in the 1800s as an alternative to the crowded and unsanitary urban cemeteries of the time.  It was planned using a new style of cemetery design; one that provided visitors with a bucolic, park-like atmosphere where they could escape the city and enjoy the scenery in addition to visiting their ancestors. 
Unfortunately, the city grew out to envelope Mt. Moriah, and eventually the cemetery fell into disrepair.  Its owners died out, and it was literally abandoned.  Drug dealing and prostitution became a problem. 
In recent years, a group, "The Friends of Mt. Moriah," has formed to tend to the cemetery.  They keep an eye on the place and try to tame the vegetation that has begun to reclaim the area.  I feel that their efforts have both pros and cons...  Eradication of illegal activity is an obvious benefit.  However, I feel that Mt. Moriah is a very unique place because of its sense of utter abandon.  People who appreciate it do so because it gives a bit of insight into a world devoid of human interference.  It provides a glimpse into the future, ala Alan Wiesman's The World Without Us.  I have seen wildlife in Mt. Moriah that is unusual for such an urban environment, and it's clear that a very special eco-system has developed in there.  So, I'm a bit torn...  I would hate to see such a unique experiment in environmental reclamation cease to exist, even if the intentions behind the efforts were pure.     

By Dale Rio —

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