Even if you don’t normally hang out in graveyards by choice, Green-Wood Cemetery is an essential stop on any tour of Brooklyn. The sprawling, hilly landscape (478 acres in all) looks good in every season, and you’ll find amazing architecture, historic grave sites, nature, and impressive sculpture at every turn. There’s no correct route to wander through Green-Wood, but here are seven destinations you shouldn’t miss on your next visit. (Check the Green-Wood map for locations.)
DeWitt Clinton’s Grave
DeWitt Clinton, the U.S. senator and New York governor who made the construction of the Erie Canal possible, is one of the most prominent figures in the entire cemetery. His body was moved out to Green-Wood right after the cemetery opened in 1838, with the hopes that such a well-known figure would draw people to the cemetery. His grave, with its striking bronze sculpture work, is hard to miss.
DeWitt Clinton’s grave photo courtesy of Robyn Fleming via Flickr.
Historic Chapel | Wally Gobetz via Flickr
The Historic Chapel
This ornate chapel, erected in 1911, was designed by the same architects who built Grand Central Terminal. It’s a beautiful Beaux Arts building, inside and out, and the space is now used for lectures, concerts, weddings, special functions, and of course, memorial services and funerals.
Soldiers’ Monument | Wally Gobetz via Flickr
Civil War Soldiers’ Monument
While you’ll find a number of war monuments around the cemetery, the Civil War Monument is one of the most popular. The 35-foot monument was erected on Battle Hill, a key point in the Revolutionary War’s Battle of Brooklyn. It’s surrounded by plaques and statues that pay tribute to fallen Civil War soldiers. Battle Hill is also the highest point in Brooklyn and provides stunning views of the cemetery and the skyline.
Sylvan Waters | JEH via Wikipedia
There are four picturesque lakes in Green-Wood, and Sylvan Waters is the largest. Because it’s in a cemetery, the waters are surrounded by large, elaborate crypts of some of Green-Wood’s most rich and famous residents.
Parsons’ Pyramid | Wally Gobetz via Flickr
Albert Ross Parsons’ Tomb
To see one of the most unique, elaborate tombs in all of Green-Wood, seek out the resting place of Albert Ross Parsons. He was a composer with an Egyptian obsession, so when he died he got a tomb fit for an Egyptian king. You’ll find both Christian and Egyptian iconography inscribed on the pyramid-shaped structure.
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Grave | Matt Kane via Flickr
Jean-Michel Basquiat’s Grave
It isn’t fancy, but the gravesite of the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat is one of the most visited sites in the cemetery. Basquiat died at the age of 27 due to a heroin overdose. Today, people pay tribute to him by leaving mementos at his grave.
Hillside Mausoleum | rockcreek via Flickr
For a rare glimpse of modern architecture at Green-Wood, there’s the Hillside Mausoleum. The glassy building holds a five-story waterfall, two pyramid skylights and a reflecting pool. Go to the top floor for some excellent views of the cemetery.