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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Riding With The Ghosts: A Cycling Tour of Boston Burial Grounds

Riding With The Ghosts: A Cycling Tour of Boston Burial Grounds

It’s October now and the chill is in the air. It isn’t long before we’re all out shoveling snow, but first we’ve got Halloween to enjoy. Who doesn’t love Halloween? The candy, the costumes, the bike rides through Boston’s graveyards. That’s right, I said bike ride through Boston’s graveyards.

On Sunday, October 29th, Hub On Wheels, a city of Boston program dedicated celebrating the pleasures of cycling while promoting the city’s many parks, is holding Tour de Grave. This is a 25 mile bike ride through the city to some of Boston’s famous and lesser known graveyards. The tour leaves Franklin Park at noon and takes about 3 hours. Boston, with the most municipal cemeteries of any city in the United States at 19, is the perfect place to take a ghostly ride through the lands of the dead.

From the stark graves of Puritans that were to serve as a reminder of the shortness of life on Earth to the artistically elaborate sculptures of more recent gravestones, you’ll see them all here. You’ll learn about the differences in burial practices and traditions through the years and see those differences for yourself. The tour starts at the Eliot Burying Ground, a 1630 graveyard that holds the graves of the Dudley family, for which Dudley Square is named, and John Eliot, a missionary to Native Americans for whom the graveyard is named.

The next stop is The South End Burying Ground, a cemetery that was used from 1810 to 1839, and holds many working class people and criminals.

The tour then moves into Dorchester, with the Dorchester North Burying Ground and the Dorchester South Burying Ground. Dorchester North was established in 1630 and began as a traditional colonial cemetery only to be redesigned with trees, flowers, and paths in 1834. Dorchester South is a later cemetery that was also redesigned as an example of more ornamental burying grounds. The tour heads over to Mt. Hope Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Boston. Mt. Hope is home to a number of monuments to Civil War soldiers, Masons, and Boston Police, among others. Another cemetery made in the “garden” style, Mt. Hope is home to a staggering 194,117 burial sites.

Next, the tour pulls into Old Cavalry Cemetery. The highlight here is the grave of James Michael Curley and family. Curley was an infamous figure in Boston history. A mayor of Boston, governor of Massachusetts, and member of the United States House of Representatives, Curley is famous for being elected to the board of alderman in 1904 while serving time in prison for fraud.

The final stop on the tour is Forest Hills Cemetery. Established in 1848 Forest Hills Cemetery is open to the public and home to numerous art installations. Forest Hills is also the home to the graves of many famous people including abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, poets Anne Sexton and e e cummings, and playwright Eugene O’Neil, among others. Riders who wish to take part in the ride should email ride leader Dick Bauer at [email protected] to register. Although riders can also just show up at Franklin Park on Sunday at noon to take part. Since it is the end of October, riders should dress appropriately as it may be cold. So why not get on your bike and get a little exercise at the same time you give yourself a little fright. Meet some ghosts, see some spectacular foliage, and keep in shape.

About the Contributor
Michael Hogan served as the following positions at The Mass Media for the following years: Editor-in-Chief: Spring 2008; Fall 2008 Arts Editor: Spring 2007; Fall 2007