Touring Historic Green-Wood Cemetery After Dark

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The weekend before Halloween, New York's Historic Green-Wood Cemetery opened its doors to over 800 revelers for a night of music, dancing, movies, and performances scattered throughout the sprawling, 450+ acre grounds in Brooklyn, NY. Green-Wood is one of New York's largest, oldest, and most famous cemeteries. It was founded in 1838 and became a National Historic Landmark in 2006. That designation has allowed them to continue to grow as a cultural institution, both serving the community as a local cemetery but also conducting tours and sponsoring events that educate and attract a wider audience.

That was the occasion for the Atlas Obscura event "Into the Veil: An After Dark Exploration" of Green-Wood Cemetery. Participants were invited to dress up and wander the grounds. Along the way they would encounter music, performances, drinks, and visit some private, family mausoleums that the cemetery had opened up. This is certainly an event for a particular type of person, but the notion of bringing people to the cemetery for something outside the traditional mourning process seems to have some benefits. It creates a relationship with the cemetery as a space for something more. It's an occasion to respectfully engage with the unique balance of general and personal history that a cemetery represents.

Beyond that, Green-Wood is also just simply beautiful. Rolling hills, ponds, brownstone grave markers and mausoleums - on many levels it is an impeccably maintained time capsule. But it also has developed over the years, and incorporated new buildings to fit the needs of the community. On the far side of the cemetery is a beautiful, modern, glass-front Hillside Mausoleum; near the entrance is their Tranquility Garden of outdoor and indoor niches dotting a beautiful koi fish pond. All in all, Green-Wood is a unique place, one that has embraced its immense historical past and while evolving and modernizing with grace over time. The New York Times has a nice review of the event and some great pictures to browse through, and if ever in the area it is certainly worth the trip.