New York City, a larger-than-life place, is home to 8.5 million people—and those are just the living ones. Though some aren’t open to receiving visitors, New York’s cemeteries are as fascinating and entertaining as any top attraction around. For an unusual excursion that’s more special than spooky, here are New York City’s must-visit cemeteries.
At Green-Wood Cemetery, visitors who are seeking out the final resting places of homegrown greats such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and F.A.O. Schwarz will be greeted with life-affirming (and photo-ready) views of New York City. Credited as an inspiration for Manhattan’s Central Park, this National Historic Landmark in Brooklyn has been a must-visit attraction since the 1860s when the cemetery was known to attract half a million visitors each year. Over 150 years later, the hills of Green-Wood Cemetery are still alive, providing sweeping views of the 478-acre property, the Manhattan skyline, and more.
The permanent residents of Woodlawn Cemetery (300,000 of them, to be exact) made their final city stay a stylish one. Each year, over 100,000 people visit this 400-acre Bronx property known for its extravagant mausoleums. Architecture enthusiasts will especially love F. W. Woolworth’s Egyptian-style tomb, complete with two large sphinxes, and the Ionic architecture of Augustus Julliard’s vault.
The final resting place of over three million departed individuals, Calvary Cemetery is the most populated burial ground in the United States. Its 365 acres have been featured in films such as The Godfatherand Zoolander, drawing visitors to the Woodside site as much as its unique features, including an early 1900s-era chapel and charming views of Manhattan.
The hills at Flushing Cemetery are alive with the sound of music, courtesy of the late jazz legends who call the spot home. Jazz’s most poetic duet yet, renowned trumpeters Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong, each made this Queens property their final resting place. The pair, along with the cemetery’s 75 picturesque countryside acres, has attracted visitors including Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.
At this uniquely New York attraction, when you’re here, you’re family, or rather, part of The Family. Home to an assortment of deceased mobsters, including larger-than-life criminals such as John Gotti, Lucky Luciano, and Vito Genovese, St. John Cemetery is Queens’ most surprising tourist attraction.
Still haven’t managed to secure a seat at Hamilton? See the next best thing at Trinity Church, a FiDi destination housing a familiar cast of characters. The founding father himself plus sisters (and Hamilton figures) Elizabeth and Angelica Schuyler are all laid to rest here—and in Hamilton’s case, beneath a ginormous white marble pyramid.
The small Machpelah Cemetery in Queens, New York, has one resident to thank for its reputation as the city’s most magical must-visit cemetery. Even in death, famed illusionist Harry Houdini continues to captivate audiences with an elaborate memorial, featuring benches, a statue of a woman in mourning, and a bust of the magician. Adding to the grave’s magical quality, the site, which is maintained by the Society of American Magicians and the Scranton Houdini Museum, often features occult-related tributes gifted by Houdini-devotees.
Established in 1795, St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery is credited as the oldest continuous place of worship in New York. Its on-site graveyard is just as exceptional, featuring centuries-old architecture (St. Mark’s is also the second-oldest church building in Manhattan) as well as recognizable residents, including Peter Stuyvesant. Situated just a stone’s throw from world-famous attractions such as Washington Square Park and Union Square, this cemetery may be the best East Village feature you haven’t discovered yet.