A lot of famous individuals have and will live in New York City, which is part of what makes this city so incredible. On a rather more morbid note, this means that a lot of famous have also died here. Fortunately, in the 19th century there was enough foresight to set aside adequate land for cemeteries for all of those who would need burying as the city expanded. Hence, some very eminent individuals have been buried in the city.
Here is a list of the ten most famous individuals buried in or around New York City:
1. Alexander Hamilton & Eliza Schuyler
Alexander Hamilton was one of the most prominent figures of the American Revolution, as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, the founder of the nation’s financial system and the country’s first Secretary of the Treasury.
A series of disputes arose between Hamilton and his political rival, the incumbent Vice President Aaron Burr, pertaining to the 1804 gubernatorial election. Ultimately, Burr and Hamilton dueled each other on July 11, 1804, which ended with Burr fatally shooting Hamilton. Hamilton was ferried back to Greenwich Village where he died; he was buried in the Trinity Churchyard Cemetery in Manhattan.
Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth Schuyler, lived another 50 years until the age of 97. During this period she co-founded the first private orphanage in New York City. She also helped to raise money for the Washington Monument. Schuyler is also buried in the Trinity Church Cemetery close to her husband.
While the most notable interment of Trinity Churchyard is Alexander Hamilton, the burial ground consists of numerous tombs that date back to 17th century, including New York City’s oldest carved tombstone. In addition to the cemetery on Trinity Place, the church established a Trinity Church and Cemetery in Upper Manhattan in 1842. A third burial ground is located in the Churchyard of St. Paul’s Chapel.
9. Ulysses S. Grant: General Grant National Memorial
Located on the northern end of River Side Park adjacent to Columbia University, is the General Grant National Memorial, the final resting place of Ulysses S. Grant. The great general and 18th President died of a throat cancer in 1885 in Wilton, New York, at the age of 63. The incumbent mayor of the time, William Russel Grace wrote a letter to New Yorkers to garner support for a national monument in Grant’s honor. The prospect of having General Grant’s memorial in New York City drew public support and a design competition was arranged, with a estimate cost of $500,000 to $1,000,000.
After two competitions, the design of John Hemenway Duncan, an architect who had had previous experience designing structures to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the U.S Revolutionary War was chosen for the tomb. Ducan cited his design objectives, saying, “…to produce a monumental structure that should be unmistakably a tomb of a military character.”
The interior of the tomb features the twin sarcophagi of Grant and his wife Julia–based on the sarcophagus of Napoleon Bonaparte at Les Invalides in Paris. Construction of the monument started in 1891 and finished in 1897, when Grant’s remains were quietly transferred to a sarcophagus and placed in the mausoleum. The remains of Grant’s wife Julia were placed in a sarcophagus next to the general, after she passed away five years later.
In 1938, under the Federal Art Project, busts of some of Grant’s acclaimed generals were made and placed in the circular wall surrounding the sarcophagi, thus making the circular room even more similar to that of Napoleon‘s–which features busts of his generals as well.
Throughout the years, despite one restoration project in 1938, the monument was overall subject to negligence. Grafitti marred the tomb, trash was heaped up around the tomb, the recesses were used by drug dealers and homeless. The remiss to the monument continued until 1991 when Frank Scaturro, a Columbia University student launched an initiative to restore the tomb, raising the matter to congress.
After many unsuccessful attempts to get the National Park Service (NPS), who was in charge of the monument, to take actions, Scaturro went public with a 325-page document that disclosed the negligence of NPS and the condition of the site. The media attention drawn from the document, which was sent to the President and Congress, led to a $1.8 million grant to restore the tomb.
Today Grant’s Tomb is open between 9:00 a.m and 5:00 pm from Wednesday to Sunday.
8. Malcom X: Ferncliff Cemetery
The civil rights activist and philosopher Malcolm X was assassinated in the Audubon Ballroom in Manhattan on February 19, 1965. After the public viewing, which took place at the Unity Funeral Home in Harlem, Malcolm X was buried at Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York, about 40 minutes north of New York.
Ferncliff Cemetery and Mausoleum is non-sectarian, and includes three community mausoleums, and a crematory. In addition to Malcolm X, the cemetery is also the resting ground of signature actress Joan Crawford, Late Night Show host Ed Sullivan, and many more. Furthermore, Nikola Tesla was cremated at the cemetery after he died in the New Yorker Hotel, with his ashes taken back to his home country of Serbia. Judy Garland from The Wizard of Oz was once interred in the cemetery but was relocated to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in 2017 due to her family’s wishes.
7. Samuel Morse: Green-Wood Cemetery
Known for the invention of the Morse code, and his contribution to the single-wire telegraph, Samuel Morse was died in New York City on April 2, 1872. Morse was interred at the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 initially as a rural cemetery in Kings County.
Built before the likes of Central Park and Prospect Park, the 478 acres of Green-Wood Cemetery was a popular outing for those wanting to enjoy the lush greenery, away from the concrete buildings of the city. The cemetery has a naturalistic, park-like landscape, which was inspired by Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and Mount Auburn cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The cemetery even includes Battle Hill, the highest point in Brooklyn and the site of crucial fighting during the Battle of Brooklyn in the Revolutionary War. Green-Wood has numerous tributes to the war, such as the Revolutionary War monument, Altar to Liberty: Minvera which gazes towards the Statue of Liberty across New York Harbor.
The cemetery is open from 7:45 a.m to 5:00 p.m everyday of the week.
6. Jackie Robinson: Cypress Hills Cemetery
Established in 1848 as a rural cemetery, Cypress Hills Cemetery was the first non-sectarian cemetery corporation in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens. While most cemeteries at the time were situated in church courtyards, the founders of Cypress Hill sought a location that had harbored a sense of tranquility, and seclusion. The land they selected is on a small hill with a vantage point of the ocean. During the Civil War the cemetery was used as a military burial for soldiers, including 235 Confederate prisoners who had died on Hart Island.As the first African-American to play in the Major League, Jackie Robinson broke numerous racial divides during his time at the Brooklyn Dodgers (now Los Angeles Dodgers). In 1971 Jackie Robinson passed away in his home in Connecticut. Robinson’s funeral was held at Riverside Church, which is adjacent to Grant’s Tomb in a ceremony that attracted over 2,500 mourners. Afterwards, the procession was taken to Cypress Hills Cemetery where Robinson was lay to rest next to his son Jackie and mother-in-law Zelle Isum. Twenty-five years later the Interboro Parkway used to transport Robinson’s body was later named Jackie Robinson Parkway in his memory.
5. William “Boss” Tweed: Green-Wood Cemetery
As leader of the unscrupulous Democratic political machine, Tammany Hall, William “Boss” Tweed’s name personifies corruption and avarice. During his reign it is estimated that he and his political cronies stole over $200 million (equivalent to $3.5 billion today)! Boss Tweed ultimately ended up in prison for good in 1876 and died there from severe pneumonia in 1878.
As The New York Times reported in 1866, “It is the ambition of the New Yorker to live upon Fifth Avenue, take his airings in the (Central) Park and to sleep with his fathers in Green-wood.”
4. Fiorello H. LaGuardia: Woodlawn Cemetery
Widely acclaimed as one of the greatest mayors in American history, Fiorello H. La Guardia is best known for revitalizing New York City and restoring faith in City Hall. With support from Franklin D. Roosevelt, La Guardia managed to reorganize the police force and defeat the notorious Tammany Hall, thus rescinding employment based on patronage.
When La Guardia died of pancreatic cancer in his home in The Bronx in 1947, he was interred at Woodlawn Cemetery, also in The Bronx.
Woodlawn Cemetery was established in 1863, when a group of businessmen convened and decided that New York City was in need of a new cemetery that could sustain its growth. A 400-acre sight was picked in The Bronx, with advertisements boasting of being only “thirty minutes away from Manhattan” on the train from Grand Central Terminal.
Over the years the cemetery grew in popularity–-especially among stars of the screen and stage–many of whom opted to be buried in the city they adored but also those of the famous Gilded Age families, like Ava Vanderbilt who has an impressive mausoleum. The cemetery is teeming with over 1,300 mausoleums, many of which were designed by renowned architects and landscape designers. The cemetery is also the final resting place for dozens of Titanic victims, more than anywhere else in the country. The heritage of Woodlawn Cemetery culminated in being designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2011.
3. William Poole, AKA Bill the Butcher: Green-Wood Cemetery
More than six feet tall and weighing over 200 pounds, William Poole was a terrifying figure in the Bowery Boys, a street gang of New York. While Poole was a butcher by profession, it was his ferocious fighting and ruthlessness that earned him the title “Bill the Butcher.”
By the mid 1850s Poole had become involved in political enforcing, with his personal gang supporting the Know-Nothing party and their anti Irish-Catholic immigration rhetoric. Understandably, Poole became the nemesis of John Morrissey, the son of Irish Immigrants and an enforcer for Tammany Hall. The two fought in a boxing match, the initial grounds of which was actually not their differing ethnic backgrounds or political opinions; rather, Poole had previously placed a bet against Morrissey, who was also a popular boxer, and in favor of his opponent.
The two decided to meet at the Amos St. Dock (the end of W. 10th st. today) for their fight. Morrissey showed up with a dozen of his men. Poole did not show up–instead sending two hundred of his men who beat up Morrissey and his men until fellow Tammanyites came to their rescue. Morrissey got his revenge later when he conspired to have Poole shot. Bill the Butcher was buried in Green-wood Cemetery (the same cemetery as Boss Tweed) in a grave that remained unmarked for over a century.
Finally, in 2003, after Martin Scorsese’s inimitable depiction of Poole in the blockbuster Gangs of New York, Green-wood Cemetery erected a grave stone in response to his revitalized infamy, with his last words etched on the stone saying, “Good bye boys, I die a true American.”
2. Babe Ruth: Gate of Heaven Cemetery
Babe Ruth, arguably the greatest baseball player of all time is buried at the Gate of Heaven Cemetery, about forty-five minutes north of New York City. Ruth was diagnosed with cancer in November of 1946. After a couple of years struggling with the terminal illness, he succumbed to death on July 26, 1948 in Memorial Hospital in Manhattan.
In lieu of a funeral home, Ruth’s casket was taken to Yankee Stadium where it remained for two days, during which 77,000 people paid tribute to him. After a funeral mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Ruth was buried in the Gate of Heaven Cemetery in Hawthorne, New York.
Gate of Heaven Cemetery was established by the trustees of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in 1916, and consecrated by the Archbishop of New York in 1918. Since then the cemetery has interred over 190,000 Catholics. In addition to Babe Ruth, some other prominent Catholics buried there include Jimmy Walker, Mayor of New York City, actor James Cagney, and actress Anna Held.
1. Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Woodlawn Cemetery
Elizabeth Cady Stanton was an American suffragist, social activist, and one of the leaders of the early women’s rights movement. Stanton was originally an active abolitionist alongside her husband during the years leading to the Emancipation Proclamation. Afterwards, Stanton solely focused on women’s rights issues, making headlines after she refused to support giving voting rights to African American men when women, black and white, were denied that right.
Stanton died in 1902 in her home in New York City, 18 years before women were granted the right to vote in the United States. She was buried in the Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, where a monument was erected in her and her husband’s honor.