04 November 2013

Green-Wood Cemetery

The Sunday before Halloween I spent the afternoon with a few friends visiting the dead at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. Those who know me are aware of my fondness for a good cemetery and this one did not disappoint. It was my first visit, and I was happy to find well-maintained grounds filled with beautiful 19th-century design. 

Founded in 1838, the 478–acre cemetery soon became a popular spot with tourists who picnicked there and prominent New Yorkers who chose it for their final resting place. New graves are added every year but the place retains its distinct Victorian feel.

A Gothic-styled main entrance greets y
ou when you arrive as do the noisy monk parakeets who nest in the spires and make their presence known. Scattered throughout the grounds are various works of art from statues and memorials to intricately designed headstones and mausoleums.

 “Minerva and the Altar to Liberty”

The cemetery is filled with hills including Battle Hill, the highest point in Brooklyn and an important location during the Battle of Brooklyn, which was fought on August 27, 1776, and saw the Americans suffer a major defeat.

“Minerva and the Altar to Liberty” is a monument erected nearby to commemorate the event. With her arm raised as if in salute, she gazes across the city to her sister, Lady Liberty.

Everywhere you look you will find the rich and famous. Just on our outing we ran across Leonard Bernstein, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Boss Tweed, Lola Montez, Elias Howe, Laura Keene, and silent screen cowboy William S. Hart (look at his modest stone above).

Speaking of which, silent screen actress Florence La Badie was buried at Green-Wood in an unmarked grave in 1917. Fortunately, a recent campaign raised enough money for a proper headstone, which will be installed on the anniversary of her birthday, April 27, 2014 (more here).

The variety of headstones in the cemetery are staggering. I was especially drawn to the ones bearing statues, mainly women, often angels. They were all lovely in their own unique way from intricate details to gentle rounded edges from years of being pummelled by the elements. The most poignant ones were for the graves of children, which often included accounts of how they had passed.

We were only able to see a section of the grounds but plan to return another day for more exploring. Hopefully, it won't have to wait until next Halloween. 

For more information, visit herePhotos by Michele.


  1. Gorgeous photos you took! Green-Wood is one of my favorite spots in Brooklyn, and one of the best parks in NYC. The Wizard of Oz (from the movie) is there, too, and Bill the Butcher (famous thanks to Gangs of NY), among too many others to list. My last stroll through was a Halloween season "scandals and scalawags" theme. It could have gone for days.(http://teleport-city.com/2013/10/28/ghosts-of-green-wood/)

    1. Thanks, Keith. It was my first visit and can't wait to go back and explore more. I'll have to keep an eye out for Bill the Butcher and the others I missed.



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