“Musicians and artists gravitated here, aspired to be here,” he said.
The Jazz Age musical greats are just one of the reasons a visit to Woodlawn can be fascinating.
Its 400 acres are the resting place of many influential people. including authors (Herman Melville, Dorothy Parker, E.L. Doctorow); business leaders (J.C. Penney, F.W. Woolworth, Madam C.J. Walker); women’s rights pioneers (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Carrie Chapman Catt); musical stars from other eras (Celia Cruz); artists, mayors, civil rights leaders, journalists and more.
Other walking and trolley tours cover themes such as Black, Irish, Italian and women’s history. Recent events sponsored by the Woodlawn Conservancy included a tour of resting places of passengers on the Titanic.
In addition, the non-denominational cemetery is a trove of funerary art and shady, hilly beauty. Its trees include several specimens recognized by New York City as “Great Trees.” The cemetery can feel far removed from the busy city blocks around it.
As Bronx green spaces go, Woodlawn is something of an undiscovered gem compared to the better-known Bronx Zoo and New York Botanical Garden nearby. (The cemetery is easy to reach by public transportation, too, with Woodlawn stops on the subway and Metro North Railroad.)