I woke up this morning to dull, grey skies, and I think that’s what I can expect for the rest of my time in New York. Yesterday’s scorching hot sunny day was probably the last I’ll see in a while. I had hoped to get up early and visit at least one cemetery in the morning before heading out to Sleepy Hollow (of Headless Horseman fame), but my body protested and demanded I take a break – it seems like I’ve been going non-stop for the past two weeks, what with my both my parents’ doctors appointments/procedures, shopping, visiting/family dinners, travel, etc. I just needed a time out. So I didn’t arrive at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery/Old Dutch Burying Ground until 14:30, and with only 2 hours until it closed, I knew I would have to make my time count while I was there. Luckily, the main office had a map of notable graves, and I have to admit, somewhat sheepishly, that Pokemon Go is also a great way of finding graves (since they are not precisely pinpointed on maps), since interesting monuments are often indicated by stops and gyms and it will show you every path, plus the direction you are walking in. Today I was able to find some graves not listed on the map (ex. the Lister grave), and be able to find others when time was running out (Washington Irving’s in particular) by using the app.
As I walked up the hill from the train station to the cemetery, I was in awe of off the beautiful, classic American homes that lined the streets of this sleepy town (that was on purpose) ;-), and as I entered the cemetery that awe extended to the grand mausoleums that seem to be at the apex of the grounds, the Rockefeller mausoleum being a good example. Other notable men (Chrysler) and women (Elizabeth Arden) had large mausoleums as well. That said, not all rich, famous men put up large memorials to themselves, some like Andrew Carnegie, the extremely wealthy philanthropist, were extremely humble in death – he had a simple (but beautiful) cross as a grave marker is a quiet grove instead.
Lucky for me, the rain held off for most of the day, but it was a pretty drab cloudy day throughout. But there’s always a silver lining, in this case, nice even light in which to take photographs, although for bronze statues it was hard to get some of the finer details.
In the months before coming to the States, I had read a few books related to medical history, one of them being British surgeon Joseph Lister, who pioneered antiseptic surgery (you can thank him for the cleanliness of hospital surgeries – before him it was common practice to re-use instruments and wear the same bloody apron when doing surgeries). Even though I knew he was British, I got excited when my app listed the Lister monument somewhere in the cemetery. Was it of the famed British surgeon? Unfortunately not (he’s buried in Hampstead Cemetery in London). This Lister was the successful owner of a fertilizer company – a bust of his head is near the top of the memorial, but what really interested me was the woman draped across his tomb (she’s the featured image of this post). Apparently she’s referred to as Drew Barrymore, due to the resemblance to the actress.
This cemetery is actually 2-in-1, as the Old Dutch Burying ground lays adjacent (but seemingly within) Sleepy Hollow cemetery proper. Here is where you will find the old slab-style grave markers, with plenty of willows, urns, and hourglasses. Next to the cemetery is the Old Dutch Church, one of the oldest buildings (and churches) in New York state. It’s also here, somewhere between where the Old Dutch cemetery ends and the Sleepy Hollow cemetery begins, that you’ll find the grave of Sleepy Hollow’s most famous resident: Washington Irving. His grave is very small and unremarkable – it lies in a fenced-off area for soldiers, and without the numerous flags that mark the grave, you would probably miss it.
As a final note about this cemetery, I was able to find a white bronze marker while I was here. I’ll write more about white bronze (zinc) later, but suffice it to say, these markers really stand out due to their colour and the fact that they don’t wear down, unlike traditional stones. I don’t usually post colour photos, but I will here so can see the difference these “stones” have compared to the usual.
Monuments: The old Dutch Burying Ground has many old slab style markers with highly stylized images, but for big memorials and statues, you’ll want to visit Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
Grounds: Over 90 acres of rolling grounds here, you’ll probably go up and down quite a few times while here. The grounds are well-maintained though, if you decide to go off the main paths.
Visitors: There were a few here, but it was mostly groundskeepers. I did see a model/fashion shoot take place near the “headless horseman” bridge, which I found very disturbing. Seeing someone in lingerie and balloons within a cemetery was not right or respectful. In the Old Dutch cemetery I found a young couple shooting the gravestones, and was happy to see the woman using a film camera like me.
Notes: I was only here for a couple of hours but it was rushed – try to go early to really appreciate what’s here.
Cemetery: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (and Old Dutch Burying Ground)
Established: 1849 (Sleepy Hollow Cemetery) 1685 (Old Dutch Church and Burying Ground)
Notable Internments: Washington Irving, Elizabeth Arden, Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, Leona and Henry Helmsley, William Rockefeller, and many others
Location: 540 N Broadway, Sleepy Hollow. It’s about a 10-minute walk straight up from Philipse Manor Station.
Hours: 08:00-16:30 daily
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