In the 1830s and 1840s, many areas such as New York City and cities up and down the Hudson river, experienced explosive population growth due to the opening of the Erie Canal.
With an increase of population was an upswing of incidents of disease such as typhus and cholera. Holding a belief that graveyards located within the city limits were most responsible for the spread of such diseases, a movement to locate cemeteries outside the city boundaries took foot.
Passed by the New York legislature on April 27, 1847, the Rural Cemetery Act authorized the incorporation of rural cemetery associations across the state. The Act would undergo various amendments throughout the years including limitations on the number of acres allowed (250) and approval by specific counties before establishing or enlarging a rural cemetery.
The timing of the Act, during the era in which landscape architecture was being developed as a concept by Frederick Law Olmstead and others, created some of the most beautiful cemeteries in the country.