Founded in 1838 and now a National Historic Landmark, Green-Wood was one of the first rural cemeteries in America. By the early 1860s, it had earned an international reputation for its magnificent beauty and became the prestigious place to be buried, attracting 500,000 visitors a year, second only to Niagara Falls as the nation’s greatest tourist attraction. Crowds flocked there to enjoy family outings, carriage rides, and sculpture viewing in the finest of first generation American landscapes. Green-Wood’s popularity helped inspire the creation of public parks, including New York City’s Central and Prospect Parks.
Green-Wood is 478 spectacular acres of hills, valleys, glacial ponds and paths, throughout which exists one of the largest outdoor collections of 19th- and 20th-century statuary and mausoleums. Four seasons of beauty from century-and-a-half-old trees offer a peaceful oasis to visitors, as well as its 560,000 permanent residents, including Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Charles Ebbets, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Horace Greeley, Civil War generals, baseball legends, politicians, artists, entertainers and inventors.
A magnet for history buffs and bird watchers, Green-Wood is a Revolutionary War historic site (the Battle of Long Island was fought in 1776 across what is now its grounds), a designated site on the Civil War Discovery Trail and a registered member of the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary System.
On September 27, 2006, Green-Wood was designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior, which recognized its national significance in art, architecture, landscaping and history.
After almost two centuries, Green-Wood is as beautiful as it was at its founding. But such historic beauty is fragile. Time and weather have taken their toll on marble sculpture, granite monuments, brownstone mausoleums, cast-iron signs and landscaped parkland.
Established in 1999, The Green-Wood Historic Fund’s mission is to maintain Green-Wood Cemetery’s monuments and buildings of historical, cultural and architectural significance; advance public knowledge and appreciation of this significance; and preserve the natural habitat and parklands of one of New York City’s first green spaces. With funding from memberships and donations, The Historic Fund not only preserves the past to enrich our future, but keeps a vibrant presence in our current time by presenting open-to-the-public events which include themed walking and trolley tours, book talks and special seasonal events.
Everybody loves a great story, and Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery has many of New York’s great stories to tell. Everyone who was anybody in 19th-century New York wanted to be buried there, and they were. As The New York Times succinctly put it it 1866, “It is the ambition of the New Yorker to live upon Fifth Avenue, to take his airings in the [Central] Park, and to sleep with his fathers in Green-Wood.”
The famous and infamous have continued to come to Green-Wood for over a century and a half now, bringing their lively stories and dark secrets with them. Green-Wood has more than 560,000 permanent residents, including Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Charles Ebbets, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Horace Greeley, baseball legends, politicians, artists, entertainers, inventors, and Civil War generals and other veterans (with more being discovered regularly by our Civil War Project). Here are only a few profiles of Green-Wood’s innumerable famous residents.