Hometown Tourist: Graceland Cemetery

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!

Are these graves for people who really loved their dogs?

Or are they graves for the actual dogs?

Totally natural dance pose

There really were a lot of obelisks

This cherub is not happy about guarding this tomb for all eternity

Daniel Burnham got his own private island. Baller.

The row houses of Graceland Cemetery

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.

Cost: Free