Established in 1863, Woodlawn is an active, 400-acre non-sectarian cemetery — an oasis in an urban setting. More than 310,000 individuals are interred on its grounds and it attracts over 100,000 visitors from around the world each year.
Recognized as one of America’s most historically significant properties, Woodlawn was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2011, joining a rarified roster of 2,500 sites nationwide. Described by the National Parks Service as “a popular final resting place for the famous and powerful,” the cemetery is distinguished by memorials that “represent the largest and finest collection of funerary art in the country.”
Woodlawn was established by a group of prominent New Yorkers who envisioned a burial ground easily accessible from Manhattan. It is designed in the landscape-lawn style that was made popular after the Civil War, which emphasizes the relationship between landscape and classical architecture. Its curvilinear road system provides views of large, singular monuments on family plots and circular lots. Propelled by location, clientele, and unprecedented wealth, Woodlawn rapidly grew to become the outdoor showplace of distinctive masterworks you see today.
The cemetery’s natural environment is as impressive as its legacy. Its park-like setting is home to an extensive array of flora, fauna, birds, and insects virtually lost from much of the area’s environs, and it is also a refuge for local wildlife. Its horticultural beauty is evident in the extraordinary collection of specimen plants, including five of New York City’s “Great Trees.”
Connection to the Community
The intentions of the past, present, and future converge at Woodlawn, reflecting a broad spectrum of American history, heritage, and culture. In addition to being a historical masterpiece, Woodlawn offers tours and events designed to educate and connect the past with the present. Woodlawn also serves as an outdoor environmental classroom as many come to view and study the more than 140 varieties of trees in our newly designated arboretum.