Woodlawn’s most visited gravesites, according to staffers, come from salsa queen Celia Cruz, Moby-Dick author Herman Melville, and the music greats (Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, et al.) buried in Jazz Corner. For all the stargazing you can do here, the cemetery has a democratic, we’re-all-in-this-together spirit that feels extremely New York. Woodlawn is unaffiliated with any particular spiritual tradition, was never ever segregated, and has constantly scheduled space for the less well-to-do. Incorporating neoclassical mausoleums for millionaires as well as easy stones for German, Italian, and Irish immigrants, it’s a city of the dead where forgotten socialites, hard-working middle-class folks, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and J.C. Penney all share space.
And the space they share is tailor-made for reflection. Winding courses weave through a heavily wooded, lake-dotted landscape that harmonizes with columned burial places, stone angels, Celtic crosses, statues of sphinxes and lions standing guard, and domed chapels with Tiffany stained-glass windows. Combine Woodlawn’s natural, architectural, and historical significance, and you get a cemetery that ranks up there with Père Lachaise in Paris and La Recoleta in Buenos Aires.
Take a self-guided tour of Woodlawn with the aid of a map from the visitor workplace, or register for a directed trolley excursion. Shows, nature walks, a nighttime illuminated trip, and events arranged around historic themes with a Woodlawn connection (the Titanic, Black History Month, Irish heritage) happen on the premises also.
To get here from Midtown Manhattan: Take a Bronx-bound 4 subway train to the Woodlawn stop. The cemetery is just across Jerome Ave. from the station.
: Take a Bronx-bound 4 subway train to the Woodlawn stop. Woodlawn is unaffiliated with any specific spiritual custom, was never segregated, and has actually constantly scheduled space for the less well-to-do. Winding courses weave through a greatly wooded, lake-dotted landscape that harmonizes with columned tombs, stone angels, Celtic crosses, statues of sphinxes and lions standing guard, and domed chapels with Tiffany stained-glass windows.