New Walkway and Entrance to Welcome Pedestrians, Cyclists to Laurel Hill
Oh, don’t underestimate this seemingly small change to the Kelly Drive – Hunting Park Avenue corner of Laurel Hill Cemetery. With a slew of cyclists, runners, dog-walkers, and your occasional flâneur passing by on the Schuylkill River Trail and gazing up at the lush recreation space (yep, not just a final resting place), the new pedestrian walkway and entrance at the curve are sure to encourage more visitors to the historic spot.
Indeed, according to a press release, the in-progress Pedestrian Access Restoration Project, a joint plan between Laurel Hill and the Department of Parks and Recreation, was launched with the intention of making the 78-acre National Historic Landmark more accessible to the public:
They will be able to move from the Schuylkill River Trail onto the expansive cemetery grounds through an easily accessible, bike-friendly entrance, complete with bike racks and a set of bike stairs.
Amanda Dean, Laurel Hill’s Director of Development, tells us fencing went up May 11th, with work starting a week afterward and still on-going (the site is currently dug out and waiting to be filled with foundation). We won’t have to wait too long for the new walkway and entry, however, as Dean says the grand opening is slated for late July / early August.
Funding for the walker & cyclist-friendly project comes courtesy of the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, the William Penn Foundation, the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, and Bill and Laura Buck. Managing the project are Paul Vernon and Philip Scott of KSK Architects Planners Historians, Inc. “with Knapp Masonry serving as the general contractor.”
Fun fact? There are several noted figures buried at Laurel Hill, both real and fictional. Just this year, the Adrian Balboa headstone along the cemetery’s Ridge Avenue side brought the crew from Creed, the latest Rocky movie, to shoot a scene.