The buried city

Still processing last week’s afternoon at Mt Moriah Cemetery, here in West Philadelphia where this post is being composed, more thoughts are stirring. I put together 5 photographs from lasts week’s adventure.
Cemeteries are interesting on so many levels, so many of us have some kind of relationship with them.
Currently, as the global political climate is rapidly changing, there is a turbulent atmosphere of historical re-invention, where history is dangerously being buried and hidden away, dismissed and outright denied. A Society, having buried its mistakes and atrocities is doomed to repeat them, as the common wisdom demonstrates.

However many lies (and secrets) are buried in a cemetery, the intact and preserved cemetery still holds them truthfully. We as a society can go to the old cemetery and question and observe what has been saved.

In this photo, the tension between the needs and desire for order in things and places and the uncertainty, disorder and chaos of current American life are in a grotesque contrast. Many of the plants that are covering these elegantly carved tombs are invasives imported from Asia that have outcompeted the native vegetation and have made the ruins of Mt Moriah Cemetery very difficult to stabilize.
The very geometrical tombs stand in contrast to the wild and uninhibited overgrowth. Here, the unmistakable tension between the “natural world” and human expectations and aspirations of order and beauty are on full display unintentionally. Epic ruins such as Mt Moriah Cemetery challenge our perceived relationship with the “natural world”, and in this case, other species, mostly plants, and interestingly enough, plants imported from other global regions that have grown outside our society’s own expectations of them.
The Romantic era from the Mid 1800s understood the beauty and mystique of ruins. These stones were made to evoke a ruined stone wall. Quite the irony here I must point out: a grave created to celebrate a romantic vision of ruins, to stir that innate sense of eternity and the transcendence of the spiritual world in favor of the built realm, is relegated into ruin, here at Mt Moriah Cemetery
. It could be interestingly argued that perhaps Mt Moriah would be more beautiful if left completely alone, in the most Romantic sensibility. However, I would argue it is worth stabilizing because the invasive vegetation and trees are destroying the beautiful architecture and integrity of the cemetery. The trees and vines are pulling down the monuments, destroying the beauty of the cemetery. Pulling down the history, the aesthetic intention.

What is striking here is how quickly in time the older generations are forgotten in our society. Who they were and what they went through has been lost in the histories of so many American families. We get so caught up in our current worries, anxieties and day to day existence that our ancestors are forgotten. Immediately upon inspection, it is duly noted that their history and struggles are doomed to be repeated if we blithely disregard and ignore our own blood relative’s and ancestor’s struggles!
This picture says it all. This could be any of us down the long hard cold cruel world of history and the future. Who knows, perhaps whoever was buried here would laugh at this and accept this fate because they had a life contemplating the understanding of the decrepit nature of our built and ordered world. I would most certainly hope so, because this is where we are all going, and let’s hope for it, because it is so romantically beautiful.

An abandoned grave. How forgotten?

The Mt Moriah Cemetery plot of the Sinclair Family, long abandoned and forgotten. Overgrown with invasive vines such as bittersweet and Japanese honeysuckle.

Last week, on this day, I came upon this grave. Overgrown and forgotten lie the remains of a family. Reading the inscriptions on the granite tomb told a sad story: the couple had a son that died in the same year born (1916). I took interest in this cemetery plot and worked to uncover it from the overgrowth. I went home and did some internet sleuthing and came up with some information. The husband, Adam Sinclair was born in Ireland and came to Philadelphia. He worked as a trolley motorman for the Philadelphia Transit company and lived in North Philadelphia near Germantown Avenue with his wife Hannah. Adam was diagnosed with carcinoma of the stomach and died at the age of 51 on October 13th 1921. He was buried on October 17th on a beautiful fall sunny day with the high temperature of 72 degrees. Hannah lived for another 16 years and died at the age of 61 with no cause of death recorded. Interestingly enough, she was living in a rowhouse at the time of her death in Southwest Philadelphia, just blocks away from her family’s burial plot. Upon learning this interesting detail, my mind immediately wandered into speculation.

I imagined that Hannah wanted to be close to her tragically lost family and chose to live near the cemetery so she could visit and feel close and have some kind of connection. She had moved to a completely different part of the city from where she was living when her husband died. Wild speculation to be sure, but who knows the real story.

From what I could see on the raw physical data was that there were no direct descendants of this family and that their memory was lost. Only what remained was this abandoned plot.
If anyone knows anymore It would be fantastic to hear from you! #hannahsinclair#adamsinclair.

Um, so basically what it looks like here, the big takeaway, is that once you’re gone, that’s it. You might have a tomb or a glamorous tombstone or even a big mausoleum etc etc, but so what, it could be overgrown or even removed to make room for housing. Philadelphia has a long sordid history of removing cemeteries for urban development.

The after picture

Protest and Vigil for Ukraine at the Art Museum

Protest and Vigil regarding Putin’s genocidal war of aggression against Ukraine, held at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Sunday, February 26, 2023

On my bike ride today, I came across this protest against Putin’s genocidal war of aggression against the Ukrainian people today. We at the Sanguine Root 100% support Ukraine and believe everything possible should be done wholeheartedly to stop this genocide immediately. It should also be amplified, the global environmental destruction this war is creating, something that is rarely brought up in the news, but needs much more attention. The sooner this war is stopped, the less destruction to the environment.

The vigil was moving and they sang what I believe was the Ukrainian anthem beautifully. I was so glad to serendipitously arrive at this moment!