Oct-Apr: daily, 7:45am-6pm; May-Jun: daily, 7:45am-7pm; Jul-Aug: daily, 7am-7pm; Sep: daily, 7:45am-7pm
M, R at 25th St.
Before Central Park and Prospect Park there was Green-Wood. Opened in 1838, the city's first rural cemetery enchanted New Yorkers with its rolling hills and designer landscaping. In spite of its primary, somber function, Green-Wood quickly became a fashionable weekend destination for carriage rides and promenades. Today, the cemetery remains open to the public and, unless you arrive in a hearse, it's free. If you've come to look at the many famous gravesites—of everyone from politicians to prostitutes to poets—it's best to sign up for a tour since nearly 600,000 souls are interred over the 478 labyrinthine acres. On the weekends, maps are available at the main gatehouse, a landmark Gothic confection, but even with a map, it's easy to get lost. Roads and paths labeled with original cast iron street signs delineate neighborhoods in this city of the dead. Elaborate mausoleums are mostly grouped together in the desirable interior, while more modest resting places get shoved out to the perimeters, proving that New Yorkers' real estate obsession continues in the afterlife. The shifts in architectural tastes and social mores revealed by these monuments make for a fascinating history lesson; some of the grander memorials wouldn’t look out of place on Columbus Circle. And the attractions that drew 19th-century crowds are still here in full: cast iron street signs, specimen trees, shady dells and ponds, and incredible views from the highest points in the borough. (Note: This is still an active cemetery, so be respectful of mourners' privacy.)Extra
Just some of the notables buried here: Leonard Bernstein, Henry Ward Beecher, Lola Montez, Jean Michel Basquiat, Elizabeth Tilton, Horace Greeley, Emma Stebbins, William Marcy "Boss" Tweed, Louis Comfort Tiffany, F.A.O Schwarz.
Monuments and Foliage
Revolutionary and Civil War monuments decorate Battle Hill; a statue of Minerva perpetually hails Lady Liberty, distantly visible in the harbor. Hundreds of mature cherry trees come into blossom at the beginning of May.
Official tours of the cemetery are available on weekends for $10-$15, and are led by Jeff Richman, Green-Wood Cemetery's Historian and author of Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery: New York's Buried Treasure. Private tours can also be arranged throughout the year with a variety of other reputable guides. Check the website for more info and a regularly updated schedule.