Graceland Cemetery

Graceland Cemetery
Location 4001 N. Clark Street,[1] Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates 41°57′16.2″N 87°39′44.2″W / 41.954500°N 87.662278°W / 41.954500; -87.662278Coordinates: 41°57′16.2″N 87°39′44.2″W / 41.954500°N 87.662278°W / 41.954500; -87.662278
Area 119 acres (48 ha)
Built 1860
NRHP Reference # 00001628[2]
Added to NRHP January 18, 2001

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 the intersection of Clark Street and Irving Park Road. The Sheridan stop on the Red Line is the nearest CTA "L" station. Among the cemetery's 121 acres, are the burial sites of several well-known Chicagoans.[3]

History and geography

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", containing the remains of Ira Couch.[4] The Couch Tomb is probably the oldest extant structure in the City, everything else having been destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire.[5]

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 architecture for Graceland was designed by Ossian Cole Simonds.[6]

The cemetery's walls are topped off with wrought iron spear point fencing.

Notable tombs and monuments

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. The cemetery is also the final resting place of several victims of the tragic Iroquois Theater fire in which more than 600 people died.

Notable Burials

Getty Tomb for Carrie Eliza Getty, designed by Louis Sullivan, 1890

Other cemeteries in the city of Chicago

Graceland is one of three large 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, directly south of Graceland across Irving Park Road is the smaller German Protestant Wunder's Cemetery and Jewish Graceland Cemetery (divided by a fence), established in 1851. Also, the Roman Catholic, Saint Boniface Cemetery (1863), is four blocks north of Graceland at the corner of Clark and Lawrence.

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Graceland Cemetery.


  1. "Graceland Cemetery and Arboretum". Retrieved 1 August 2015.
  2. National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  4. Dabs. "Chicago Cemeteries". Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  5. Bannos, Pamela (2012). "The Couch Tomb — Hidden truths: Visualizing the City Cemetery". The Chicago Cemetery & Lincoln Park. Northwestern University. Retrieved November 15, 2012.
  6. Lanctot, Barbara (1988). A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Architectural Foundation. p. 2.
  7. "Maryland Mathison Hooper McCormick (1897–1985)". Cantigny. Retrieved on June 23, 2012.
  8. Guyer, Isaac D. (1862). History of Chicago – Its Commercial and Manufacturing Interests and Industry. Chicago: Church, Goodman & Cushing, Book and Job Printers. pp. 96–7.
  9. "$1,000,000 Is Left for Old Folks' Home". Chicago Daily Tribune: 17. March 8, 1923.
  10. Lanctot. Barbara, ‘’A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery: A Chicago Architecture Foundation Walking Tour’’, A Chicago Architecture Foundation Walking Tour, Chicago, IL, 1992 p. 30

Further reading

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