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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Woodlawn Cemetery’s sepulchral sanctuary

By Maya Rajamani
Posted
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.
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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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