Sunday, June 25, 2006

The final suburb.

A few weeks ago, my wife took a tour of Woodlawn Cemetery, where many of New York's prominent citizens of yore are interred. Woodlawn is in the northern Bronx, next to Van Cortlandt Park, and therefore at the northern edge of New York City. At the time that most of its inhabitants took up residence, however, it was part of New York County (which today consists of Manhattan and a tiny bit of the mainland cut off from Manhattan when the Harlem River's course was changed by blasting to improve navigation) but not part of the City. In other words, it was suburban. A Scarsdale for stiffs, Bronxville for bones, Pelham for the perished.

The day of the tour, the weather gods cooperated by providing a suitably gloomy overcast and light but steady rain. Fortunately, my wife had her camera to record the tour. Here's the group entering the cemetery:



The gravestones, as you might expect, are classical in style and quite elegant. Consider this, which may belong to the family of an early steamboat enterpreneur:



Or this bronze frieze, in a romantic style, of a recumbent youth:



Many of the prominent families have mausoleums. This classical temple houses the remains of the Julliards, remembered principally for their patronage of the great music school that bears their name:



Today, the fashion for elaborate crypts seems gone. Perhaps that's a good thing. Still, Woodlawn is something to behold.