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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

Haunted History: Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery

Updated: Aug 8, 2022

Brooklyn’s Green-Wood cemetery spans 478 acres of land. It opened in 1838, as one of the first rural cemeteries in the United States. Rural cemeteries became popular during the nineteenth century in the United States and Europe. Because of overcrowding, rural cemeteries were built several miles outside of city centers, commutable for visitors but far enough away to protect from health concerns.

Green-Wood’s infamous gothic revival gates were designed by Richard Upjohn. And are home to lime green Argentinian Monk Parrots, in the 1950s these birds were devastating agriculture in Argentina, and thousands flown out of the country and exported to the United States.

The cemetery’s hilly geography lends itself to striking visuals, truly making you feel like you are miles away from NYC. Though you can catch glimpses of the World Trade Center, Statue of Liberty and stunning Manhattan skyline from various vantage points within the grounds.

The highest point in Brooklyn is actually within Green-Wood, approximately 216 feet above sea level, known as Battle Hill. Many believe Green-Wood’s design to have been inspired by Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Mass.

The cemetery grew quickly in popularity. By the 1860s there were 7,000 annual burials, with lots selling for $100 each. It was so popular that the city instated a ferry service for visitors. Around this time it was attracting yearly visitors, only second in size to Niagara Falls.

The land contains over 575,000 internments. Including the burial sites of conductor Leonard Bernstein, Brooklyn’s own famous graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, American politician Boss Tweed, and American Statistician Henry Chadwick - just to name a few.

Green-Wood’s Chapel was built between 1911 and 1913, it now houses artist exhibits.

The cemetery is attributed as being Brooklyn’s first public park; it was established about thirty years prior to the opening of nearby Prospect Park.

Green-Wood is still an active cemetery. It is both part of the National Register of Historic Places and was declared a National Historic Monument in 2006.

Green-Wood cemetery is open to visitors 365 days a year and is an attraction for Bird Watchers, as well as locals who use the cemetery as a park. I also have ancestors buried here.

All my love,


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