History at Home: Visiting Green-Wood Cemetery

History at Home: Visiting Green-Wood Cemetery

It’s difficult to miss our sprawling Green-Wood Cemetery, but have you ever taken the time to walk around and explore its grounds? If you haven’t, you don’t know what you’re missing.

Standing atop Battle Hill, site of one of the most important battles of the American Revolution, is Minerva and the Alter to Liberty. Although Minerva is known for holding her hand up in salute to Lady Liberty over in New York Harbor, Green-Wood’s historian, Jeff Richman, recently posted in his blog that, not only was the monument originally designed with flowers clasped in her left arm, she was facing the Woolworth Building.

A number of visitors still pay respects to composer Leonard Bertstein, whose final resting place is not far from Battle Hill. The New York Times noted in September that fans will often leave memorabilia from West Side Story around his marker.

You don’t have to seek out the rich and famous, though, to discover interesting stories. We stumbled across the grave of Captain John B. Pannes during a recent visit to the cemetery. Pannes fought as an infantryman during the American Civil War, and according to his obituary in the New York Times, he was also “one of the oldest lawyers in this city.”

In addition to a number of regular tours and special events, self-guided walking tours are available. It’s also a popular spot for birdwatching, and of course is home to a a colony of monk parakeets. While you can’t jog, ride bikes, or eat on the grounds, you can otherwise wander freely, which is the best way to make your own discoveries.

The 478 acre historic landmark is a wonderland of secrets, some of which are only now being uncovered. Green-Wood’s decade long Civil War Project has uncovered over 4,000 veterans of the American Civil War that are resting on its grounds. You never know what you’re going to find. Why not head over for a walk today?

Green-Wood Cemetery’s main entrance is located at 25th Street and 5th Avenue. The 25th Street entrance is open seven days a week from 8am-5pm. For more information and a calendar of special events, visits their website.