America’s Cemetery: Woodlawn’s Designation as a National Historic Landmark

A National Historic Landmark is a building, district, object, site, or structure that is officially recognized by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior for its outstanding historical significance.  As such, these historic properties illustrate the great heritage of the U.S.  There are over 2,600 of these historically important cultural sites in the country.  Designedly, National Historic Landmark sites are places where events of national historical significance have occurred.  These can include places where people of note lived or worked, icons or ideals that influenced the nation, prominent examples of architecture or design, places representing a particular way of life, and archaeological sites revealing important information.

In 2011, the U.S. Department of the Interior designated the Bronx’s Woodlawn Cemetery as a National Historic Landmark for the Cemetery’s indisputable importance as the final resting place for many famous Americans.  Iconic legends memorialized at Woodlawn include chief philosopher of the women’s rights and suffrage movements Elizabeth Cady Stanton, influential jazz musicians Miles Davis and Duke Ellington, Former Mayor of New York City Fiorello H. La Guardia who worked tirelessly to uproot corruption and organized crime, Moby Dick author and poet of the American Renaissance Herman Melville, and many other artists, entrepreneurs, and civic leaders. Woodlawn, where 310,000 people are buried, is the last home of a colorful array of people representing different aspects of New York and American history, dating back to the post-Civil War era.

In celebrating our rich cultural heritage, it is crucially important to preserve our nation’s history not only for ourselves, but also for the generations.  National Historic Landmark status helps support preservation efforts at Woodlawn, ensuring that the eternal resting place for many of the people who made lasting contributions to New York and America remains part of the City’s heritage throughout the generations.  By being designated as a National Historic Landmark, Woodlawn is eligible to be considered for federal grants for historic preservation, which will preserve America’s cemetery now and for the future.