Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Woodlawn Cemetery’s sepulchral sanctuary

By Maya Rajamani
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
The resting place of Jay “Skunk of Wall Street” Gould at Woodlawn Cemetery.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Cuban Queen of salsa Celia Cruz lies near her husband at Woodlawn Cemetery.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
The grave of George Washington DeLong an explorer who died in Siberia after he and his crew were forced to abandon their ship.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
A contemplative figure in bronze adorns the grave of Joseph Pulitzer, namesake of the most prestigious prize in journalism.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
Frank Winfield Woolworth, owner of the five-and-dime stores, rests at Woodlawn Cemetery with female sphinxes at the entrance of the tomb at each side.
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
John H. Harbeck's final resting spot at Woodlawn Cemetery, took eight years to complete.

Given the popularity of  Martin Scorcese’s movie The Wolf of Wall Street, Woodlawn Cemetery director Cristiana Peña likes to point out the resting site of another American fat cat: Jay Gould, known to some as the “Skunk of Wall Street.” 

His 30,000-square-foot plot is the largest singular plot at Woodlawn Cemetery, occupied by the mausoleum in which Mr. Gould is entombed, as well as a weeping beech tree like the ones he is said to have planted himself on his estate in Tarrytown in the 1800s. A railroad speculator and developer, Mr. Gould accrued a massive fortune — and notoriety as a “robber baron” with close ties to Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall. 

But in spite of, or perhaps because of, his reputation and rise to riches, Mr. Gould left behind a site at Woodlawn that is the picture of serene grandiosity — a temple-style mausoleum reminiscent of the Greek Parthenon. 

“It’s really meant to look like the Parthenon — kind of a temple to himself,” said Ms. Peña. “Every mausoleum told a story about the person’s life and what things were important to them.”

Mr. Gould is one of many historical figures — most with more positive reputations than his own — and “ordinary” people buried or entombed at Woodlawn Cemetery, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year and was deemed a National Historic Landmark in 2011. 

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