Brooklyn’s Green-wood Cemetery

Green-wood Cemetery
5th Avenue & 25th Street, Brooklyn, NY 11232, Phone: 718-768-7300

The beauty of Green-wood Cemetery (also referred to as Greenwood Cemetery) can only be matched by its astonishing art, impressive history, surprising architecture, and its numerous well-known residents. If you visit New York, and Brooklyn in particular, there is more to see than just the museums, and coming to Green-wood Cemetery is a must.

Green-Wood was established before Manhattan’s Central Park and it was founded during the ‘rural cemetery movement’, a direction that promoted building cemeteries that looked like, and functioned as, public parks. In the middle of the 19th century, Green-wood Cemetery was a highly visited tourist attraction, much like New York upstate’s Niagara Falls, with more than 500,000 visitors annually.

Everybody who was of any importance in New York wished to get buried at Green-wood, so the beautiful cemetery is home to many of Brooklyn and New York’s historical figures, celebrities, and inventors.

The Green-wood Cemetery is a phenomenally beautiful almost 480 acre park that was chartered by New York State in 1838 (on April 18th), and the cemetery was established in that year by Henry Evelyn Pierrepont, and David Bates Douglass, the famous landscape architect, designed the original layout.

The cemetery is situated on a very varied terrain and features four glacial kettle ponds and also Brooklyn’s highest point, Battle Hill, from where visitors have a nice look over Brooklyn. Ever since the 1850’s, the cemetery has continually been an important tourist destination and some 610,000 persons found their final resting place here. In 2006, Green-wood Cemetery became a National Historic Landmark.

When Green-wood Cemetery was opened in 1838, it was one of the first ‘rural’ cemeteries in America. It was situated in King’s County, outside of New York City limits, at what now is Brooklyn. Green-wood was meticulously designed and planned by Major David Douglass, who was very successful in transforming the almost 480 acres of wild and rolling hilly land into a beautiful symphony of art and nature.

The cemetery’s landscaping by Douglas was so impressive and exceptional that Calvert Vaux used it as an inspirational source as he designed Central Park.  Unlike the majority of American cemeteries at that time was Green-wood Cemetery created as both a a public green recreational area and a final resting place for New York and Brooklyn’s most famous individuals.

By the year 1860, Green-wood had become such a top destination for tourists from all across the world that the cemetery was already attracting more than a half million visitors annually.  To this day, tourists and locals alike are visiting the cemetery to see the astonishing family shrines and the impressive monuments to honor fallen heroes from the civil war.

Green-wood is stunningly beautiful, but there is more. The cemetery is the last resting place of many famous and infamous New York and Brooklyn residents, politicians, baseball legends, artists, inventors, entertainers, and quite a few generals from the Civil War. There are several tours available where visitors can hear touching anecdotes, heroic tales, and scandalous stories about the many notables that are burred at the cemetery.

Just to give you a few names of New York’s rich and famous that have found their final resting place here: Leonard Bernstein (the world-famous composer and conductor), Dewitt Clinton (the sixth Governor of New York and U.S. Senator), Peter Cooper (philanthropist and inventor who founded the highly reputed Cooper Union, a famous Manhattan academic institution), Charles Pfizer (the founder of the pharmaceutical giant that bears his name), Elias Howe Jr. (who invented the sewing machine), Charles Ebbets (who owned the Brooklyn Dodgers in the period 1902-1925), Seth Low (the only person ever who served as both Mayor of New York and Brooklyn), and F.A.O. (Frederick Augustus Otto) Schwartz (who founded the world’s funnest store).