On Sunday I took a 2-hour walking tour of Graceland Cemetery. Even though it was Halloween, the tour wasn’t about ghosts or being spooky. It was more historical and I’m thankful for that. Our tour guide, Sylvia, ruled. She was really knowledgeable and friendly, even if she did tell really bad jokes.
When I got to Graceland’s entrance at Irving Park Road and Clark Street, there were probably a couple hundred people waiting for the tour. We were split up into groups of about 25, which was a perfect size. Graceland is the final resting place of many of the city’s most famous names – John Kinzie, George Pullman, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Marshall Field, to name a few.
Eli Williams’ wives are buried sequentially in front of him and his monument.
Eternal Silence, also called the Statue of Death, is a bronze figure before the polished black slab of granite by sculptor Lorado Taft. It was created in 1909 and marks the body of Dexter Graves, a hotelier who died in 1844.
The Crusader is another sculpture by Lorado Taft. It marks the grave of the newpaper publisher Victor Lawson, who in 1875 started the Chicago Daily News.
This pyramid marks the burial site of Peter Schoenhofen who was born in Prussia. He was the owner of Schoenhofen Brewery.
This is William Kimball, the piano maker’s, gravesite and is one of the biggest monuments at Graceland. The marble is very porous and hasn’t weathered well over the years, unfortunately.
As we all know from reading Devil in the White City, Sullivan died lonely, alcoholic, and poor. It wasn’t until many years after his death that he began to be recognized as one of the greatest architects of his time. His grave is directly behind Kimball’s.
The Palmers were like the king and queen of Chicago. Potter Palmer owned 3/4 of State Street and was responsible for it’s development. He also operated an extremely successful dry-goods store with Marshall Field and Levi Leiter. He married Bertha Honore, who was considered the queen of Chicago high society.
Burnham is my favorite, after reading Devil in the White City. He was an architect and city planner and is responsible for many of the features of Chicago today. But what he’s famous for is being the chief of construction for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. Burnham and his family’s ashes are buried on an island in Lake Willomere in Graceland Cemetery.
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe always said “less is more” and demonstrated it in the design of his buildings. Even his gravesite abides by his philosophy.
William Hulbert founded baseball’s National League.
Overall the cemetery reminded me of Green-Wood, the cemetery I toured with Tien in Brooklyn last year.
Other famous notables at Graceland: Kinzie, Jenning, Jack Johnson, John Root, Pullman, Goodman, the Honores, Wacker, Armour, the Marshall Fields family, the McCormick family, Richard Nickel, and the Pinkertons and their detective agency.
Many thanks to graveyards.com/graceland for helping me translate my notes!