Founded as one of America's first rural cemeteries, Green-wood Cemetery is 175 years old today. This 478 acre cemetery in Brooklyn is a playground for birds, squirrels and racoons, and the lush hills, valleys and tree-lined trails are an oasis for city-weary individuals seeking respite.
Over 560,000 people are buried here, with many artists, inventors, musicians, politicians and others of varied notariety included among them.
I explored Green-wood Cemetery during my first visit to New York City in 2002 and fell in love with its quiet embrace. Surrounded on all sides by businesses, residences and traffic, and with spectacular views of the harbor and lower Manhattan, its 560,000 buried are tucked in beneath simple white crosses, elaborate marble statues, and within dark mausoleums, placed in neat rows, scattered along hillsides, and jutting from beneath the shadows of century old tree trunks.
In the spring and summer, historic tours are given by trolley, allowing visitors to explore the vast number of graves and tombs, while hearing the history of the founding of Green-wood as well stories of some of its more notable residents.
Today, on a weekday that begins cool and rainy, but quickly turns to a sunny spring afternoon, I encounter only three other people, though I'm on the grounds for over six hours. Nestled in the middle of Brooklyn's Park Slope neighborhood, Green-wood Cemetery's nearly 500 acres offers up its beauty and its serenity for all. One only need step through the black, metal gates and pass by the bright, welcoming gardens...