Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Green-Wood: Where the Dead Go in Brooklyn

Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn occupies the highest point in that famed borough and the site of the Revolutionary War Battle of Brooklyn.  From the grounds, one can see the Statue of Liberty in the harbor to the west.  Now a National Historic Landmark and on the Registry of Historic Places, Green-Wood was founded in 1838 by Henry Evelyn Pierrepont, a Brooklyn social leader. Among the first subscribers was the Van Ness family, who were descended from very early Dutch settlers and were the ancestors of my beloved mother-in-law, Ruth Van Ness Clark.  Ruth’s remains now repose among those beautiful rolling hills.

A tourist attraction for more than 150 years, Green-Wood now draws half a million visitors a year.  It boasts a magnificent chapel designed by Warren and Wetmore, who also designed Grand Central Terminal.  Many of the most famous and infamous New Yorkers are buried there, including Boss Tweed, Theodore Roosevelt Sr, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Leonard Bernstein.  At this moment in spring, it is glorious with blossoming trees and still gorgeous despite the devastation wrecked by Hurricane Sandy.  Here are photos taken this past Monday, when I played hooky and went on a delightful jaunt there with my friend Jay and left some spring flowers for Ruth.

Grave of Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Here is a movement from one of Gottschalk's symphonies in case you need an introduction to his music.

A Van Ness family mausoleum.  Not from our branch of the family.

Ruth is buried somewhere among those small tombstones in the background. Not so ritzy a place, but also not so cosmologically confused.
Memorial to the Battle of Brooklyn

Very simple grave marker for Leonard Bernstein and here is a clip of his music to go with the red white and blue.

Now just some random shots to show you how lovely and interesting Green-Wood is:

Annamaria Alfieri


  1. That's a beautiful cemetery. I've heard of it, but I never knew how lovely it was.

  2. One hopes the dead ( or living in another sphere) can look down and see those gorgeous trees... I wonder if those who plan a watery grave can also see them... just a thought... Thelma Straw in Manhattan

  3. Heard of Greenwood in Brooklyn, never knew where. And I love the pictures you are always so liberal with, though I don't play the music (not a fan, I guess) but do appreciate the presence of it all: You're the Pied Piper of Distant Places.
    Bob K.

  4. A fascinating place I know fairly well ( not far from where I live) Thanks for the lovely photos.