Saturday, July 11, 2009

Graceland Cemetery ~ Chicago

Graceland Cemetery is a large Victorian-era cemetery located in the north side community area of Uptown, in the city of Chicago, Illinois, USA. Established in 1860, its main entrance is at Clark and Irving Park. The Sheridan stop on the Red Line is the nearest CTA "L"(Short for Elevated Line) station.
In the 19th century a train to the north suburbs occupied the eastern edge of the cemetery where the "L" now rides. The line was also used to carry mourners to funerals, in specially rented funeral cars, requiring an entry on the east wall, now closed. At that point the cemetery would have been well outside the city limits of Chicago. After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, Lincoln Park which had been the city's cemetery, was deconsecrated and some of the bodies moved here. The edge of the pond around Daniel Burnham's burial island was once lined with broken headstones and coping transported from Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park then became a recreational area, with a single mausoleum remaining, the "Couch tomb".

The cemetery is typical of those that reflect Queen Victoria's reconception of the early 19th century "graveyard". Instead of poorly-maintained headstones, and bodies buried on top of each other, on an ungenerous parcel of land; the cemetery became a pastoral landscaped park dotted with memorial markers, with room left over for picnics, a common usage of cemeteries. The landscape architechture for Graceland was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York's Central park.
Many of the cemetery's tombs are of great architectural or artistic interest, including the Getty Tomb, the Martin Ryerson mausoleum (both designed by architect Louis Sullivan, who is also buried here), and the Schoenhofen Pyramid Mausoleum. The industrialist George Pullman was buried at night, in a lead-lined coffin within an elaborately reinforced steel-and-concrete vault, to prevent his body from being exhumed and desecrated by labor activists.
Along with its other famous burials the cemetery is notable for two statues by sculptor Lorado Taft, Eternal Silence for the Graves family plot and the Crusader that marks Victor Lawson's final resting place.

Graceland is one of three notable 19th century cemeteries which were previously well outside the city limits; the other two being Rosehill (further north), and Oak Woods (South of Hyde Park) which includes a major monument to Confederate civil war dead.
In addition to the larger ones noted above,directly south of Graceland is the German Protestant Wunder's Cemetery & Jewish Graceland Cemetery (divided by a fence), established in 1851. Also, Saint Boniface Cemetery is four blocks north of Graceland at the corner of Clark & Lawrence.
The cemetery's walls are topped off with barbed wire.

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