My most recent Urban Adventure took me to about thirty-five miles north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to a quaint town called Evans City. I was in Pittsburgh for a wedding and wanted to do some sight-seeing. Now, I know there’s plenty to see in Pittsburgh the Andy Warhol Museum, the Toonseum, and the double decker bus tours. But I was more interested in spending time with family and being the colossal dork that I am, I wanted to visit a certain cemetery.
My nephew, his family, and my son made the short yet lovely drive North to visit this famous graveyard. It is not Arlington, nor does it hold any famous people. But Evans City Cemetery is the spot where the first cinematic flesh-eating zombie stumbled down the peaceful graveyard and terrorized a brother and sister. It is the place where these eerie words were uttered:
“They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”
Yes, Evans City Cemetery is where the opening scene to Night of the Living Dead was filmed.
Upon reaching Franklin Road, my nephew calls and states he’s pretty sure we are on the right track. And we both see the wooden sign. I squealed like a girl at a Justin Beiber concert, “Omigosh, we’re here!” With this exclamation, I awakened my son, who napped in the passenger seat. I eased the rented car up the dirt road and immediately stopped at the famed chapel, which is the first recognizable image from the movie. Barbara and her brother, Johnny, parked their car in front it. The groundskeeper is parked near there an I asked him, completely knowing the answer, if this is the “old chapel.” He did not seem to mind me holding a camera and wanting to walk calmly around the cemetery.
The chapel has aged quite a bit over the past forty-plus years, and is actually in danger of being torn down, as it is falling down as one can see in this picture.
Don’t want to see this historic chapel destroyed?
Visit FixtheChapel.com and donate!
Our stroll around the cemetery on this hot day took us by other spots used in the film. The tall monument with the ball on top is clearly visible in the scene where the first ghoul stumbles towards Johnny and Barbara.
Here is the approximate spot where Johnny meets his demise after struggling with the zombie.
We also stood by the famed “Blair” tombstone, where Johnny teased his sister by telling her they were coming to get her. This tombstone is just down the dirt road across from the chapel. This last pic was shot in the area where Barbara fell and lost her shoe. Yet there is a grave on the exact spot, so if you visit, show some respect and don’t go stomping all over the final resting place.
Evans City Cemetery is a peaceful and beautifully well-kept place of burial. There are no signs pointing out that it is where an entire genre took its first steps. And that is a huge part of what made this experience so wonderfully enjoyable and personal.
I’d like to thank Tom G. for his article on Dark Destinations, which specifically points out areas in the cemetery that are featured in Living Dead. And I hope to hear that Evans City received enough money to renovate the chapel by October!