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Covering 467 acres, the Albany Rural Cemetery is located just minutes north of New York State's capital city. Incorporated in 1841 and consecrated in 1844, it received its first burials in the spring of 1845. Now the final resting place of over 135,000 individuals, it is still an active cemetery.

An early and significant example of the rural or garden cemetery which began with Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it was designed by landscape engineer David Bates Douglass and its grounds are filled with significant examples of memorial art ranging from early 18th century headstones to statuary by sculptors such as Erastus Dow Palmer, Charles Calverley, and Giuseppe Moretti. The office and chapel were designed by architect Robert W. Gibson while the main gate and former Superintendents House were the work of Marcus T. Reynolds. The Cemetery was added the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

Arc's south entrance along Menands Rd (rt 378). There is also an entrance on Cemetery Ave.

Arc's south entrance along Menands Rd (rt 378).  There is also an entrance on Cemetery Ave.

The Hilton Mausoleum features a sculpture by Oscar Lenz.

The Hilton Mausoleum features a sculpture by Oscar Lenz.

An honor guard lays a wreath at the grave of President Chester A. Arthur.

An honor guard lays a wreath at the grave of President Chester A. Arthur.

The Soldier's and Sailor's Lot at ARC.

The Soldier's and Sailor's Lot at ARC.

Former Superintendents House designed by Marcus T. Reynolds

Building, Property, Window, Plant

As the country grew and industrialized in the mid-19th century, many communities began to rethink their burial practices. Up to that time, people were traditionally buried in their local church’s cemetery. As these sites became overcrowded, as did pauper burial sites, fear also spread, not totally unfounded, that they also spread infectious diseases, such as cholera. The living also sought to escape the crowded, filthy, urban centers and, in an age before public parks, the garden cemetery movement was fostered. The ARC is a prime example of that movement as it served the dual purpose of being a repository for the dead as well as a natural retreat for the living.

Congressman Daniel Bernard delivered the dedication address in 1844 at a site that was chosen for its tranquility and rural beauty. The original 100-acre plot has obviously since expanded, but has maintained its bucolic nature. It now contains roads that wend their way through a forested, rolling landscape. The ARC also contains two large streams that contain small waterfalls and two ponds that host various waterfowl. These streams divide the cemetery into thirds, known as the North, Middle and South Ridges. Humans, it turns out, are not the only things that visit the ARC as deer, woodchuck, raccoons and other forms of wildlife are frequently spotted. 

Interspersed among the trees and hills are the final resting spots of numerous people of note, to include a former president, and former members of Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, presidential cabinet members, governors of New York, mayors of Albany and over 1,000 Civil War veterans. Many of their graves are adorned with exquisite funerary sculptures by such artists as Erastus Dow Palmer (who is also buried here), Charles Calverley, Ephraim Keyser, and Oscar Lenz.

Famous individuals buried at the ARC include:

Chester A. and Ellen Arthur – 21st President of the United States and First Lady.

Philip Schuyler – Revolutionary War veteran, U.S. Senator from New York and father-in-law to Alexander Hamilton.

William Paterson – U.S. Senator, Governor of New Jersey, Supreme Court Justice and signer of the U.S. Constitution.

William Learned Macy – U.S. Senator, Governor of New York, Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce.

Stephen Van Rensselaer – last Dutch Patroon and founder of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

John Van Buren – Son of President Martin Van Buren

William James – grandfather of author Henry James.

John Canfield Spencer – Secretaries of War and Treasury under President John Tyler. 

"What makes ARC Special?" Albany Rural Cemetery. Accessed February 9, 2017.

"These Exalted Acres: Unlocking the Secrets of Albany Rural Cemetery." Times Union. 2013. Accessed February 9, 2017.

Denner, Daniel. "For a spook, visit Albany Rural Cemetery." Troy Record. October 24, 2009. Accessed February 9, 2017.

Lemire, Paula. "Albany Rural Cemetery: a tour of (a few) favorites." All Over Albany. March 28, 2016. Accessed February 9, 2017.