A lovely day to relax in Green-Wood Cemetery

It might sound a little macabre to our modern sensibilities.

But in a city with almost no public parks until the late 19th century, what better place was there to take in the fresh air and views of New York Harbor and enjoy the natural landscape than a burial ground?

Which is why half a million Brooklynites and tourists a year flocked to Green-Wood Cemetery, founded in 1838.

Green-Wood was one of the new “rural” cemeteries that allowed people to stroll the grounds, ride 17 miles of carriage drives, and picnic inside a necropolis of 150,000 souls by 1870, according to Lights and Shadows of New York Life.

“[T]he sunlight falls brightly, the birds sing their sweetest over the new-made graves, the wind sighs its dirge through the tall trees, and the ‘sad sea waves’ blend with it all in their solemn undertone from afar,” wrote author James D. McCabe, in wonderfully flowery Victorian-era prose.

Green-Wood “has come to be, next to the Central Park and Prospect Parks, one of the favorite resorts of the people of New York and Brooklyn.”

[Top photo: Green-Wood Cemetery; bottom photo: NYPL]

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3 Responses to “A lovely day to relax in Green-Wood Cemetery”

  1. artsny99 Says:

    Thank you for this nice post – I also find the place poetic and charming!
    Just a note that this historic cemetery is now hosting a public art project “Here Lie the Secrets of Visitors of Green-Wood Cemetery”. You may find more information about the artist, etc. here:
    https://www.arts-ny.com/historic-green-wood-cemetery-public-art-project-lie-secrets-visitors/

    Tatyana at http://www.arts-ny.com

  2. Kenny Says:

    Samuel F. B. Morse was buried in Greenwood in 1872 to attract more potential ‘customers’.

  3. Beth G Says:

    Before Central Park was created, Green-Wood was the only place for New Yorkers to go for outdoor recreation. That was one of the arguments for building a grand park in Manhattan.

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