The Green-Wood Cemetery was the second most popular tourist site in the state with over 500,000 visitors each year by 1860 (Niagara Falls was the first). Located in Brooklyn near Prospect Park, the cemetery was founded in 1838 as one of the country’s first rural cemeteries. Since then, it has developed a reputation of being a most prestigious place to be buried with 560,000 “permanent residents,” many of them pretty famous. This landscape also helped inspire the creation of public parks in the city, including Central Park and Prospect Park. So, here are our top 10 secrets of a National Historic Landmark.
The catacombs of the Green-Wood Cemetery are opened only once a year to the public on a special day where the cemetery holds a guided tour of the mysterious underground. The catacombs were not intentionally constructed for the cemetery, rather, the area was previously actively mined for gravel. The pits that resulted from the work were converted into so-called “apartment buildings for burials.”
The catacombs consist of 30 vaults, usually owned by families. Interestingly enough, this kind of burial facility was used to avoid burying people alive. Since 2003, OHNY (Openhousenewyork) has enabled free-access to the city’s architectural gems, with the Green-Wood cemetery being one of them. So it was only until recently that the catacombs of this historic cemetery became opened to a select number of the public once a year.
Next, check out Catacombs Around the World: Paris, NYC, London, Rome