Historic America Photography

Most Venerable Cemeteries in New York

These majestic rural cemeteries are a who’s-who of New York State’s historic and influential personalities.

It’s not called “The Empire State” for no reason–New York is not only among the largest states in the U.S., it’s also among the most influential. Its citizens have made an outsized contribution to American history and culture, and today you can visit the final resting places of many of these historic and influential personalities.

Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York

Mount Hope Cemetery, at 1133 Mount Hope Avenue, in Rochester, New York, was founded in 1838 as a municipal rural cemetery on the hills overlooking the Genesee River. It sprawls over 196 acres adjacent to the University of Rochester. More than 350,000 former residents are interred there, including abolitionist Frederick Douglass, suffragette Susan B. Anthony, and city founder Nathaniel Rochester.

Albany Rural Cemetery in Menands, New York

Designed by Major David Bates Douglass and established in 1841, Albany Rural Cemetery, on Cemetery Avenue off NY State Route 32, in Menands, Albany County, New York, is a 467-acre National Historic Landmark and the final resting place for over 135,000 people. According to the Times-Union, 55 Albany mayors, five New York governors, 34 congressmen, eight presidential cabinet members, and one president, Chester Alan Arthur, are buried here. You can easily spend days exploring the grounds.

Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, New York

Oakwood Cemetery, at 940 Comstock Avenue, next to Syracuse University, in Syracuse, Onondaga County, New York, was designed by landscape architect Howard Daniels and opened in 1859. It is a secular Victorian “rural” or “garden” style cemetery where over 60,000 people are interred in 160 acres. This is by far the most interesting cemetery I’ve ever visited in the U.S., with Gothic and Victorian mausoleums and family plots dotting undulating, wooded hills. It’s positively Tim Burtonesque in some areas.

West Point Cemetery in West Point, New York

The United States Military Academy cemetery at West Point is filled with storied figures and heroes who fought in all America’s wars. West Point, on the Hudson River in Upstate New York, served as a fort during the Revolutionary War and is the oldest continuously operating Army post in the United States. Captain Thompson, an officer in the Revolutionary War, may have been the first internment at the cemetery here in 1809.

Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, New York

Forest Lawn Cemetery, at 1411 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo, New York, is a Victorian rural cemetery established in 1849. Over 161,000 former residents of the “City of Light” are interred within its 269 acres, including U.S. President Millard Fillmore and the 49 victims of the Colgan Air Flight 3407 crash. True to its name, Forest Lawn is also an important arboretum, with over 3,500 trees spread over its sprawling grounds. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

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