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Good grief! Greenwood?


A cemetery may seem an unlikely destination for a family outing. But we have something special in our own backyard. I’ve lived in Brooklyn for 24 years, but until recently, I had yet to set foot in the verdant Green-Wood Cemetery, once the second most popular tourist attraction in all of New York City.

   Turns out, it’s not an odd choice for a way to spend the day, particularly with kids. Birding is popular at the cemetery, and even if you don’t look too hard, you’re likely to see hawks, gulls, sparrows and orioles. The grounds are stunning; almost the size of Prospect Park, which it predates, the cemetery has many specimen trees that are over a hundred years old.  You can walk on the grass and eat a snack while you explore, but you have to make sure your kids behave respectfully if you encounter a funeral or group of mourners.

   Green-Wood is great for history buffs of all ages, not only for its residents but also for what happened there.  Before the area became a cemetery, it was the site of the Battle of Brooklyn, the bloodiest battle of the Revolutionary War and the first fight after the Declaration of Independence was issued.  Some of the famous people buried in Green-Wood include Frank Morgan (the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz), abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, and composer Leonard Bernstein.

   There is a free historic trolley ride that offers tours throughout the grounds.  There are also self-guided walking tours; one takes you to “Battle Hill and Back”, through the arboretum and sculpture garden.  The tour includes the resting place of F.A.O. Schwarz and Charles Ebbetts, owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Another focuses on “Valley and Sylvan Waters”, where you might see cormorants and egrets. This tour goes past the gorgeous and newly-restored Historic Chapel, with its Tiffany windows, and to Louis Comfort Tiffany’s grave.  Booklets for these tours are $7, sold at the Gothic Arch at the entry.

   There are also guided Historic Fund tours led by Jeff Richman, Green-Wood Cemetery's historian. Tours, which last about two and a half hours, are usually $10 per person; special Halloween tours in October are $20 each.   

Info:

Where: 500 25th Street at Fifth Avenue

When: Open daily 8am-4pm, weather permitting

For more info: (718) 768-7300; www.greenwoodcemetery.org



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