A Day Outside Manhattan: Brooklyn's Landmark Greenwood Cemetery

Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn is a cemetery that is fun. Find history, celebrity grave sites, and plenty of room to roam around.

Visit Greenwood Cemetery while you can still leave.”

--A guide’s wisdom.

Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn is a cemetery that is fun. For example, people ask the question, “Is Houdini buried here?” The answer is obvious, “He escaped.” And, then there is the story about Mae West, a celebrity of her time. Her relatives placed announcements in New York City newspapers that her burial would be at Greenwood. It was a deflection so that her family could have a private burial elsewhere without the prying press in attendance.

Greenwood Cemetery (the more central lower green patch on the right) is in Brooklyn across from lower Manhattan (left).

An advantage of this day trip is that it leaves the big city behind. It is not only pastoral, but also easy to reach from Manhattan. The directions to the cemetery from Manhattan are here.

The cemetery was founded in 1838 as a burial site for Kings County, NY. In 2006, it was granted National Historic Landmark status. There are 560,000 inhabitants in the ground, some of whom are famous. For example, Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Horace Greeley.

The cemetery celebrated 175 years of operation in 2013.

Leonard Bernstein’s Grave is described as “Modestly Immodest”

The cemetery has historic significance as well. On Aug. 27, 1776 during the American War of Independence, what is known as the Battle of Brooklyn Heights took place on the grounds. Though British forces defeated the rebel Americans, the latter put up a valiant fight. On Aug. 29, General George Washington ordered a retreat thus saving most of what was left of the Continental Army from capture. Still, about 200 were left behind and died in British captivity. Days later, (Sept. 15, 1776), the British captured New York City. But, the war turned and we can now claim Greenwood Cemetery as our own.

If you go, here is a map of restaurants near the Greenwood Cemetery with descriptions.

For More:

New York City: A Calm Oasis in Chelsea

A NYC Day Trip to the Bronx

A Gem of a Museum in NYC: It is MAD

A New York City Jewel: The Hispanic Society of America

All photos by the author.