With the stories of being haunted by ghosts and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” song making it possible to believe that people climb out of their graves, it can be difficult convincing someone to visit a cemetery. Green-Wood Cemetery, however, is unlike other cemeteries as Business Insider notes. Which is why we’ve put together this list of 10 reasons you should visit Green-Wood cemetery and why it’s one of New York’s most interesting tourist destinations.
1. It is home to some famous artists
“It is not what you take with you when you leave the world but what you leave behind you when you are gone,” are lyrics from Randy Travis’ song ” Three Wooden Crosses,” and once you visit the Green-Wood Cemetery you will witness these words. William Holbrook Beard is an artist appreciated for satirical paintings of animals, his most famous works being paintings of bulls and bears battling in front of Wall Street. His grave, therefore, has a bear sitting on it in remembrance of his work. Another artist on the cemetery is Jean-Baptist Basquiat who died at the age of 27.
2. To see the war monuments
If you appreciate history, you will probably want to visit the cemetery, specifically the Soldier’s Monument and pay tribute to the New Yorkers who lost their lives during the Civil War. The monument is 35 feet tall, has a granite enclosure, inscription plaques and bas-relief plaques surrounding it. It is on Battle Hill, and four bronze soldiers guard it. The bronze soldiers were initially of zinc and coated with bronze, but they split along the seam as time passed and therefore had to be replaced.
3. It is an ideal picnic site
If you do not mind eating a meal with thousands of graves surrounding you, then Green-Wood Cemetery presents the perfect place to go for a picnic; it has beautiful gardens and thousands of trees. Being a certified arboretum should tell you how well it is maintained so you should not worry about a polluted environment. Matter of fact is apart from the spectacular scenery; you will find the peace motivating enough to read that book you have been putting off for so long.
4. The departed rich have homes that are a sight to behold
The cemetery may be a resting place to all kinds of people, but it was the burial site for the crème de la crème of the New York society back in the 18th and 19th century. Therefore you can have a look at how much prestige the rich enjoyed even on their graves by visiting the graves of people like Emile Pfizer who founded the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer. His grave looks more like a gazebo while that of William Colgate, founder of Colgate University and Colgate-Palmolive, is more of a monument.
5. The chapel
Christian or not, the chapel at Green-Wood cemetery is worth paying a visit so that then you can understand why the rental rates for four hours in the chapel starts at $1,500 as Green-Wood.com enlightens us. The building was designed in 1911 by the firm of Warren and Wetmore, whose other accomplishments include designing the Grand Central Terminal, the New York Yacht Club and The Yale Club. So if you are planning a wedding and do not fear the spirits of the dead, this chapel is the ideal location, allowing you to film both in the chapel and on the grounds.
6. To pay tribute to the person who made it possible
Green-Wood was not always a site to attract anyone, and it took the death of DeWitt Clinton to give it the revolutionary fame it now holds. DeWitt was a mayor, senator, governor and presidential candidate who became famous for advocating for the Erie Canal. When he died, he was buried in Albany, but after a decade, his remains were moved to Green-Wood hoping that his being there would attract plot buyers and the general public to enjoy the sites. The move was successful, and Clinton’s bronze monument stands at the Bay Side Dell.
7. Memorial ground for disasters
We cannot live in the past but remembering the ones we lost to different disasters is sometimes only possible by visiting their graves and knowing they are in a much better place, at least that is what we believe. Therefore if you watched the “Titanic” and came close to tears, you will find the victims and survivors of the catastrophe buried at Green-Wood Cemetery. Ever heard of The Brooklyn Theater Fire that claimed 278 lives? Well, 103 victims also lay here because their families could not afford graves or the bodies were not identified. Other disasters whose victims were laid to rest at this cemetery include the Park Slope Plane crash, the Wall Street Bombing and the general Slocum Steamship fire.
8. Birdwatchers’ paradise
Walking around the cemetery, you might hear the chirping of birds, most probably parakeets which are believed to have made the place their home after a crate broke at the JFK airport in the 1960s and they escaped. Since Green-Wood cemetery is a member of the Audobon Cooperative Sanctuary System, it has several ponds that have attracted different types of birds such as herons, ducks, geese, sandpipers, and egrets. Besides watching them in their habitats, you can catch a glimpse of the birding walks which happen often.
9. Architectural inspiration
Are you aspiring to be an architect or maybe looking to get a few ideas on a personal project? A visit to the Green-Wood cemetery might be just the trip you need to take to shed light on what you need, to achieve a breathtaking design. The Gothic Revival style you find at the entrance of the cemetery is spectacular with the looming arches completing the look. If you want to learn how you can incorporate pictures into your design, then the biblical scenes from the New Testament you see in the panels might teach you a thing or two.
10. The glacial topography
Long ago most of North America was covered by the Laurentide ice sheet, and when it melted, it craved the terrain, leaving rocks, gravel, and sand which led to the creation of Battle Hill. Green-Wood still has four glacial ponds and the largest one, Sylvan Waters, has large crypts of the wealthiest and most famous residents surrounding it.