Two cemetery associations were founded in Cincinnati in 1844. Both created burying grounds that were revolutionary in their own ways, but the tales of these two cities of the dead are remarkably divergent. The Cincinnati Horticulture Society produced Spring Grove Cemetery, and the United Colored American Association created United Colored American Cemetery, later shortened to United American Cemetery. While Spring Grove set a new bar for graveyard design, United American became the first respectable burying ground for Black Cincinnatians. Previously, Black people were buried in one of the city’s Potter’s Fields.

Today, Spring Grove is a source of municipal pride. It is the site of weddings as well as funerals. Its manicured beauty makes it a popular destination for leisurely walks or runs; and the cemetery offers guided walking tours. By contrast, United American looks derelict. Grave markers are sunken, overgrown, tilted or toppled.

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