Swindlers and mobsters and murderers: oh, my! Even in death, they are larger than life, and more than you know now slumber forever in Brooklyn’s beautiful Green-Wood Cemetery.
Yes, beautiful is the definitive word. With its green, rolling hills, pink-flowering trees and white marble statuary, the 475 acres of park-like Green-Wood have long appealed to society’s upper crust as “the” place to be for all eternity. Today’s Green-Wood, still a working cemetery, serves up a huge dose of history along with the fresh air and sunshine.
The hundreds of back-stories make Green-Wood popular with visitors all year long. They come to admire the marbled graves of actors, dancers and politicians and to mourn victims of the Lusitania, General Slocum, and Brooklyn Theatre Fire. They come to marvel at the mausoleums of the very rich, the unmarked graves of the very poor, and the eloquent epitaph of the well-loved Fannie, who was, of course, “Only a Dog.”
All is Not Gravy in the Gravestones
Equal-opportunity Green-Wood has also interred perhaps more than its share of the infamous. From mobsters to murderers to victims of their crimes, the stories can raise the hair on the back of your neck, and who better to tell them than Jeffrey Richman, Green-Wood’s official historian? Come and meet these notorious rascals at one of Green-Wood’s annual Halloween tours, and let Richman’s extensive knowledge of all things Green-Wood give you a spine-tingling glimpse into the seamier side of life among the rich and famous.
Anything Can Happen
The tour itinerary, not carved in granite, depends on Richman’s mood at the time. You may drop in at the now-permanent residence of murder victim Edward Singer Hall and his loving wife, Frances, accused and acquitted of having done him in. You could breeze on by and say “fuhgeddaboudit” to organized crime boss Albert Anastasia, a hit man who can’t hurt you any more. If you’re really lucky, you might even get to pay your respects at the grave site of Bill “The Butcher” Poole, disgraceful denizen of the 1850s “Five Corners” district and the inspiration for Martin Scorsese’s bloody “Gangs of New York.”
The Halloween Tours at Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery
You have your choice of two Halloween Tours at Green-Wood. No reservations are required, but advance tickets are recommended and can be purchased on line. These tours are very popular, so get yours while they last! Now that the scandalous are safely underground, you’ll never get any closer than this.
500 25th Street (at 5th Avenue)
Halloween at Green-Wood, Part 1: Saturday, October 30, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.
Halloween at Green-Wood, Part 2: Sunday, October 31, 2010 at 1:00 p.m.
This Halloween, come and meet the hallowed souls of Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. But tread softly while you’re here, and don’t close your eyes for long. You never really know what might pop up!
Richman, Jeffrey I. Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery. Stinehour Press (1998)
Pseudo-Intellectualism: The Infamous of Green-Wood Cemetery
Find-a-Grave: Green-Wood Cemetery
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