Any time I ride the Red Line north of Belmont, I do two things: I whine internally about how far I am from my side of town, and I admire the long stretch of green cemetery that glides past the window in Uptown. In late June, I finally stopped riding by it and stopped in for a visit.
Graceland Cemetery was built before the Civil War, back when it was well outside city limits. Apparently it was a new thing at the time, started by Queen Victoria, to make graveyards less jumbled plots of sadness and more spacious parks for picnicking and dignified visits with the deceased. When I went, it was absolutely empty. Granted, this was during one of those weeklong stretches of 100-degree weather we’ve had this summer, so it wasn’t exactly an ideal time for a stroll.
Still, Sessily and I had a nice time walking down the meandering paths and looking at the various monuments and gravestones. I always thought predominantly Christian graveyards would have a bunch of stone crosses and marble angels, but this one is full of self-important movers and shakers of Chicago, so it’s populated with grandiose tombs and a lot of obelisks.
And now, many pictures. Enjoy!
Where it is: 4001 N Clark St., at Irving Park Rd. (there’s only one entrance)
When to go: 8am-4:30pm daily (office is open 9-4 M-F, 10-3 Sat, closed Sun); some tours operate on weekends during the warmer months
What to see: The office just inside the gates has a map and guidebook for sale, but you can also take a couple free pamphlets that show the basic lay of the land and point out some of the more famous monuments in the cemetery.