The Rural Cemetery

The Evergreens and other rural cemeteries had a distinctive scenic design and a dual purpose that extended far beyond their fundamental mission as sites for the burial of human remains. Here was a place for burial, yes, but it was also a public center – “a museum, arboretum, bird sanctuary, park, historical archive, and landmark,” to quote cemetery historians Blanche Linden-Ward and David C. Sloane. To accomplish all this and still remain an active and respectful cemetery required a novel landscape design that placed the graves and monuments in a picturesque, parklike setting that did not compromise the institution’s fundamental calling.

The place itself had to be appropriate, and that was the case with the property selected to be the grounds of The Cemetery of the Evergreens. An early visitor characterized it as a “high rustic enclosure.” Rustic the place certainly was after generations of farming.

There were more than 2,000 interments a year in the 1880s, and often double that number after the turn of the century. The grounds, meanwhile, were crowded on weekends and holidays with New Yorkers and Brooklynites who came out by the thousands to the high rustic enclosure, many to mourn and many to stroll among the tombs in the park that was a cemetery, and the cemetery that was a park.

Information taken from the book Green Oasis in Brooklyn: The Evergreens Cemetery by John Rousmaniere. Learn more here.