As I was exploring New York City’s cemeteries for my recent article on the Titanic, I ended up shooting a bunch of random graves that happened to catch my eye. I was just looking through the folder of pictures, and I thought I’d share a few of my favorites.
First off, this is department store mogul F. W. Woolworth’s mausoleum in Woodlawn…
…and is there a cooler way to spend eternity than in an Egyptian temple??
Designed in the Egyptian revival style by architect John Russell Pope in 1920, Woolworth’s mausoleum is guarded by a pair of bad-ass sphinxes…
…er, rather large breasted bad-ass sphinxes…
…armed with some menacing claws:
Two pillars support the entrance…
…each lined with hieroglyphics. I’d love to know if these have actual meaning – and is that a beetle with its wings outstretched in the center?
The entrance door in bronze. Also buried here is Barbara Hutton, Woolworth’s granddaughter, who led an exceptionally depressing life for being one of the wealthiest women in the world.
Finally, centered over the door is a sun, flanked by vulture wings and a pair of cobras:
Amazingly, a near duplicate by Pope exists in Pittsburgh for one Emil Winter, a businessman…
…though I think Emil got the cuter sphinxes:
In fact, both of these are clearly based on the 1907 Tate Mausoleum in St. Louis, which featured more comical sphinxes.
For out-and-out creepiness, you can’t beat this eerie Grim Reaper in Brooklyn’s Green-wood cemetery:
The robe-shrouded Death appears to be poring over a roll of parchment – perhaps checking for names?
I love how crouched over the figure is, like he just sank down and threw open the parchment to see where your soul is headed.
Speaking of creepy, actually picturing the reality of this grave’s epitaph might make you step a few feet back from the plot (no need to wake anyone up, right?):
To whoever buries me, please don’t get me such a lumbering, bland grave…
…and please PLEASE make sure you don’t write anything like this on it:
Reader Jim points out that turn-of-the-century Italian-American actress Duse was actually buried in Italy…so what is this doing in Brooklyn? Apparently, it’s a monument from a fan.
Herman Melville’s grave, in Woodlawn. I actually finished reading Moby-Dick on a movie shoot in the Battery. As I was reading the last few pages, I looked up and realized I was sitting beside the plaque marking Melville’s birthplace.
Finally, I do not support grave desecration in any shape or form…
…but wouldn’t this monument be ever so more fascinating if it was intentionally carved this way?
PS – Touring New York’s cemeteries is always worth the trip. However, there are a lot of stupid rules you have to watch out for. For one thing, you’re not allowed to bike through a lot of them, which is mind-boggling considering that NO ONE was at any of the cemeteries they day I went, yet I was told to get off my bike at all three. I’d understand if this was some sort of spiritual respect thing, except these cemeteries hand out “Guide to finding celebrity graves!” pamphlets. Meanwhile, they allow cars to drive through at breakneck speeds (perhaps this is to create business).
Also, some of them actually require you to have a photography permit – EVEN FOR PERSONAL USE. This is insane. If I was dead, I’d be THRILLED if someone actually bothered to come take a picture of some rock with my name on it. Trust me, NYC cemeteries: the ghosts don’t care.