Monday, February 05, 2007

Green-Wood Cemetery

Green-Wood Cemetery is one of the most fantastically beautiful cemeteries anywhere. It was founded in 1838 and contains a plethora of Victorian era graves. The Victorians were known for their elaborate burial ceremonies and ornate tombstones. Green-Wood is located in Brooklyn between Park Slope and Sunset Park; here's the impressive main gate:
In the 1850's it was a very popular tourist attraction, drawing over 500,000 people a year to it's nearly 500 acres. Walking through the hilly cemetery today is more than just a stroll through uniform blocks of granite in the ground, it is a stroll through monuments of grandiose individuality.Green-Wood is non-denominational and is the final resting place of a large number of famous people including: Leonard Bernstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bill "the butcher" Poole, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Margaret Sanger, Boss Tweed, Currier and Ives, Henry Ward Beecher, DeWitt Clinton, Samuel FB Morse, Edward R. Murrow, F.A.O. Schwarz, Henry Steinway, as well as many many others.

Attempting to find those graves is like trying to find a needle in a haystack; I'd recommend going on a tour or getting a guidebook if you're looking for the big names. Even without seeing it's famous residents, a walk through the cemetery is rewarding. Here is the statue of Minerva, the "altar to liberty" at the top of Battle Hill.
Minerva is situated on the highest hill in Brooklyn and is saluting Lady Liberty herself. The hill is named for the Battle of Brooklyn, where George Washington was forced to retreat from the British in one of the first major battles of the Revolutionary War.
If it ever warms up again, Green-Wood Cemetery is a great place to spend an afternoon (or an eternity).