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Living it up at Forest Lawn

Buffalo is laden with a vast array of cultural and natural wonders. Western New York parks, art galleries, trees, wildlife sanctuaries, architectural sites, colorful personalities, water features and pastoral places of peace and quiet are found throughout the region. All of these favorites exist in one place called Forest Lawn. And it’s the perfect place to celebrate a life.
Forest Lawn Cemetery is 269 acres of art, nature, history and beauty located in the very heart and soul of the City of Buffalo. With its winding roads, undulating topography and variety of magnificent monuments, one could spend weeks playing a game of “eye spy” that includes the art and architecture, while drinking in the breathtaking beauty of the grounds. Forest Lawn Cemetery has become an enduring chronicle of local history and a cultural landmark to local accomplishment. It is truly worthy of its designation in the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.
Established in 1849, Forest Lawn is one of America’s premier historic Victorian cemeteries, with more than 155,000 residents. Forest Lawn’s founder, Buffalo attorney Charles E. Clarke, had a vision to establish a place that would honor the dead, in addition to offering the living a place to experience nature in a pastoral setting. Hence, he purchased 80 acres of land in the quiet country, 2 1/2 miles from downtown Buffalo that became just that. His idea was patterned after Père-Lachais, the world’s most famous cemetery, established in Paris in 1804, and Mount Auburn Cemetery in Boston, begun in 1831.
Each of these historic cemeteries encouraged people to walk the grounds, admire the funerary art, and commune with nature. Clarke then invested $10,000 of his own money to create the country-like lanes throughout the grounds and placed a lawn under the cleared forest. When Forest Lawn opened there was no public park system in place, so it quickly became known as a quiet respite for Buffalonians – a place to get out of the dirt, dust and noise of the young and bustling city…and relax.
Forest Lawn is still a place where citizens come to relax, exercise, investigate and celebrate life. The popular Sundar in the Cemetery program is also becoming one of the area’s top tours. Like Père-Lachais, the 9th most popular tourist destination in Paris; Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia; Hollywood Forever tours in Hollywood, California; and City of the Dead tours in New Orleans, Louisiana; Forest Lawn successfully takes visitors on a history filled and entertaining journey through the cemetery, while introducing them to many of the noble citizens buried there–some who occasionally pop out to say hello in 3-D.
This year’s program has expanded in collaboration with the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society to include a Pan American Tour, which highlights the 1901 Buffalo exposition. The event starts with a docent-led Pan-American exhibit tour at the Historical Society’s Resource Center on Forest Avenue and the continues on a motor coach tour through Forest Lawn, where guests learn about the people that made this historic event happen.
Walking and Nature Tours of Forest Lawn are available, as are specialty tours about the Civil War and notable African American citizens of Buffalo.
Next time you near those impressive gates of Forest Lawn, feel free to stop in and browse, or take one of the many Sunday tours offered this summer. Pass through the gates to discover this permanent outdoor museum that is a Buffalo treasure.
To order tickets call 1.800.838.3006 or order online at www.forest-lawn.com.

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