Graceland Cemetery

Graceland Cemetery is a large historic garden cemetery located in the north side community area of Uptown, in the city of Chicago, Illinois, United States. Established in 1860, its main entrance is at the intersection of Clark Street and Irving Park Road. Among the cemetery's 121 acres (49 ha) are the burial sites of several well-known Chicagoans.[3]

Graceland Cemetery
Graceland Cemetery.jpg
Graceland Cemetery is located in Chicago metropolitan area
Graceland Cemetery
Location in Chicago
Graceland Cemetery is located in Illinois
Graceland Cemetery
Location in Illinois
Graceland Cemetery is located in the United States
Graceland Cemetery
Location in United States
Location4001 N. Clark Street,[2]
Chicago, Illinois
Coordinates41°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
Area119 acres (48 ha)
NRHP reference No.00001628[1]
Added to NRHPJanuary 18, 2001

Graceland includes a naturalistic reflecting lake, surrounded by winding pathways, and its pastoral plantings have led it to become a certified arboretum of more than 2,000 trees. The cemetery's wide variety of burial monuments include a number designed by famous architects, several of whom are also buried in the cemetery.[4]


Thomas Barbour Bryan, a Chicago businessman, established Graceland Cemetery in 1860 with the original 80-acre (32 ha) layout designed by Swain Nelson.[3][5] Bryan's son, Daniel Page Bryan, was the first person to be buried at the cemetery after having been disinterred and removed from the city cemetery in Lincoln Park along with approximately 2,000 other individuals.[6][7] In 1870, Horace Cleveland designed curving paths, open vistas, and a small lake to create a park-like setting.[5] In 1878, Bryan hired his nephew Bryan Lathrop as president. In 1879, the cemetery acquired an additional 35 acres (14 ha), and Ossian Cole Simonds was hired as its landscape architect to design the addition. Lathrop and Simonds wanted to incorporate naturalistic settings to create picturesque views that were the foundation of the Prairie style.[5][7][8] Lathrop was open to new ideas and provided opportunities for experimentation which led to Simonds use of native plants including oak, ash, witch hazel, and dogwood at a time when many viewed native plants as invasive. The Graceland Cemetery Association designated one section of the grounds to be devoid of monuments and instituted a review process led by Simonds for monuments and family plots.[9] Simonds later became the superintendent at Graceland until 1897, and continued on as a consultant until his death in 1931.[5][10]

Graceland Cemetery was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 18, 2001.[11]


Graceland Cemetery is an example of a rural cemetery, which is a style of cemetery characterized by landscaped natural areas. The concept of the rural cemetery emerged in the early 19th century as a response to overcrowding and poor maintenance in existing cemeteries in Europe.[12]

In the 19th century, a train to the north suburbs occupied the eastern edge of the cemetery, where the Chicago "L" train now runs. The line was also used to carry mourners to funerals, in specially rented funeral cars. As a result, there was an entry through the east wall, which has since been closed. When founded, the cemetery was 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 were reinterred to Graceland Cemetery.[citation needed]

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 was redeveloped as a recreational area. A single mausoleum remains, the "Couch tomb", containing the remains of Ira Couch.[13] The Couch Tomb is probably the oldest extant structure in the city, everything else having been destroyed by the Great Chicago Fire.[14]

The cemetery's walls are topped off with wrought iron spear point fencing.[citation needed]

Notable tombs and monumentsEdit

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 in the cemetery), 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.[citation needed]

William Hulbert, the first president of the National League, has a monument in the shape of a baseball with the names of the original National League cities on it.[15]

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 33 victims of the Iroquois Theatre fire, in which more than 600 people died.[16]

Notable burialsEdit

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

Other cemeteries in the city of ChicagoEdit

Graceland is one of three large mid 19th-century Chicago cemeteries which were then well outside the city limits; the other two being Rosehill (further north), and Oak Woods (on the south-side) all in the elaborated pastoral cemetery style.

In addition, directly south of Graceland across Irving Park Road are the smaller German Protestant Wunder's Cemetery (1859), and adjacent Jewish Graceland Cemetery (divided by a fence), established in 1851. The Roman Catholic, Saint Boniface Cemetery (1863), is four blocks north of Graceland at the corner of Clark and Lawrence.

See alsoEdit


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  8. ^ Lanctot, Barbara (1988). A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery. Chicago, Illinois: Chicago Architectural Foundation. p. 2.
  9. ^ Tishler, William H. (2004). Midwestern Landscape Architecture. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-07214-7.
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  15. ^ Bojanowski, Mike (October 6, 2016). "A Tour Of The Cubs-Related Graves At Graceland Cemetery". Retrieved July 6, 2020.
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  21. ^ FOX. "'Mr. Cub' Ernie Banks laid to rest at Graceland Cemetery". Retrieved November 7, 2016.
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Further readingEdit

  • Hucke, Matt and Bielski, Ursula (1999) Graveyards of Chicago: the people, history, art, and lore of Cook County Cemeteries, Lake Claremont Press, Chicago
  • Kiefer, Charles D., Achilles, Rolf, and Vogel, Neil A. "Graceland Cemetery" (PDF), National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, HAARGIS Database, Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, June 18, 2000, accessed October 8, 2011.
  • Lanctot, Barbara (1988) A Walk Through Graceland Cemetery, Chicago Architectural Foundation, Chicago, Illinois
  • Vernon, Christopher (2012) Graceland Cemetery: A Design History. Amherst, MA: Library of American Landscape History and University of Massachusetts Press.

External linksEdit