Explore Our History
PAST … AN EXCEPTIONAL HISTORY
A cultural resource and a veritable outdoor museum, Woodlawn has been an active, 400-acre, non-sectarian cemetery from its inception in 1863. The cemetery was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011 by the National Parks Service. Its celebrated lot owners comprise artists and writers, business moguls, civic leaders, entertainers, jazz musicians, suffragists, and more, including Herman Melville, Joseph Pulitzer, Fiorello LaGuardia, Celia Cruz, Duke Ellington, Irving Berlin, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. The cemetery’s unrivaled collection of monuments—including over 1300 mausoleums– were designed by legendary American architects, landscape designers, and sculptors. The work of McKim, Mead & White, Carrere & Hastings, Beatrix Farrand, Louis Comfort Tiffany, and Daniel Chester French graces Woodlawn’s grounds.
PRESENT … AN ACTIVE ENTERPRISE
Over 300,000 individuals are interred at Woodlawn, and more than 100,000 visitors are welcomed through its gates each year. The cemetery continues to serve the New York area by providing land, buildings, and settings for distinctive memorials and quiet reflection, as well as a full range of burial needs, including single graves, community mausoleums, and cremation gardens. Ethnic and cultural diversity abound at Woodlawn, where lot owners are encouraged to express their personal stories, national pride, and the heritages of those at rest.
Throughout the year, visitors attend and participate in programs, tours, and events hosted by the Woodlawn Conservancy. Donations to this 50l(c)(3) non-profit organization help to preserve our rich cultural resource and to support and provide the initiatives that make it available to the public.
FUTURE … A DYNAMIC VISION
Actively planning for the years ahead, Woodlawn is beginning to draft plans for the more than twenty undeveloped acres on our grounds. Redefining “community” at Woodlawn for a new generation, we are designing our first “cemetery within a cemetery.” This concept envisions an inclusive burial complex comprising a central feature mausoleum, traditional burial ground options, and unique selections for the burial of cremated remains. The area’s naturalistic, landscaped setting includes terraces and walkways that provide visitors ease of circulation within an intimate yet interactive environment, and seating venues offer spots for rest and contemplation.
The preservation of our National Historic Landmark property now takes on renewed importance, as well. The descendants of lot owners can take part in this effort through preservation of their family monuments and the use of their available burial spaces.