The Fairmount Water Works: “One of the Very Prettiest Spots the Eye Can Look Upon”

Error and the human condition, being bound tightly together, generally keep a sullen kind of company. Yet as unpromising as that pair might seem, their offspring sometimes attain startling beauty. Certainly the grace and charm of Philadelphia’s Fairmount Water Works, on the east bank of the Schuylkill River, derive both from the human condition and the fitful attempts to improve it....
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An Address for the Afterlife at Laurel Hill Cemetery

It all began in 1836, when architect John Notman (1810–1865) laid out a series of meandering walkways and terraces on the east bank of the Schuylkill River above Fairmount Park. With his design for Laurel Hill Cemetery, the twenty-six-year-old native of Scotland created the first architecturally designed cemetery in the country. He also established the nation’s second garden-type cemetery,...
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