Brooklyn’s Beautiful Green-Wood Cemetery is a Crowd-Pleaser!
In the mid-1800s, Brooklyn's vast Green-Wood Cemetery was one of America's most popular tourist attractions, its half a million visitors each year rivaling the likes of Niagara Falls. So popular, in fact, were its winding paths, picturesque valleys, and grassy hills–upper-class people would be spend the entire day here–that it helped inspire the creation of NYC's public park system, serving as a kind of rough blueprint for both Central and Prospect Parks.
Today Green-Wood Cemetery's 478 acres are home to some 560,000 "permanent residents", including the likes of Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Horace Greeley, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, as well as some of the most spectacular statuary on display anywhere.
Exploring The Picturesque Grassy Hills
There are plenty of ways to explore Green-Wood Cemetery, including, of course, just showing up (with or without picnic lunch), grabbing a map and/or a self-guided tour book at the main office in front, and strolling around for as long as you want. But Green-Wood Cemetery also hosts organized tours as well, including several sorts of trolley tours that make getting around all that pretty acreage a much less daunting experience. There are also special events, usually involving alcohol, held several times a month, such as the "Drinks To Die For" Beer Garden on Thursday evening, August 22.
Battle of Brooklyn: Revolutionary War Reenactment
But as far as I'm concerned, the best reason to visit the Green-Wood Cemetery is the annual reenactment of the pivotal Revolutionary War conflict, the Battle of Brooklyn. This was this first battle ever fought by the United States of America, coming as it did about six weeks after the signing of the Declaration of Independence; it was also the largest such fight of the entire war. And though the Americans lost the battle, General Washington managed to save his army, escaping to New Jersey, and eventually, of course, defeating the British in 1783.
Dressed Up to Celebrate History
Anyway, the Battle of Britain was fought on land that would become part of Green-Wood Cemetery, and the reenactment here in today's South Brooklyn is awesome. Not that it's terribly huge (there were only about two dozen soldiers there last year, plus other period actors cooking and such), but these people take it extremely seriously: the uniforms, the props, the guns and cannon (which are LOUD), all of it done with as much historical integrity as possible. And they all hang around afterwards, chatting and answering questions and showing off their goods. Is it nerdy? Absolutely. But I had a great time last year, and plan on returning, Sunday August 25, to see it again.
More Information: Green-Wood Cemetary
The main entrance of the Green-Wood Cemetery is located on Fifth Avenue and 25th Street in Greenwood Heights, Brooklyn, and is open every day from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., with extended hours during the summer. There are other entrances, but the Battle of Britain reenactment is held on a field near this location. The R train, which you can pick up at Atlantic Avenue/Barclays Center station, gets you a block away. Visit Green-Wood online for more information and a complete schedule of tours and events.
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