Day Two Hundred Forty-four

Chicago History and Resting Places

IMG_1110Seven or eight years ago, I read Devil in the White City, a book about the 1893 World’s Fair held in Chicago. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.  It’s a historically accurate nonfiction account that reads more like a great novel. The book shifts back and forth between the planning of the fair, including biographies of its organizers, and the story of the serial killer that preyed upon fair visitors.

The author, Erik Larson, in his end notes gives the following credit:  “Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski’s Graveyards of Chicago (1999)…led me to Graceland Cemetery, an utterly charming haven where, paradoxically, history comes alive.”

Since reading this, I have wanted to visit Graceland Cemetery.  Today, I did. It is a really beautiful and interesting place where generations of prominent Chicagoans, including business titans, politicians, and influential architects, have been laid to rest. And they did it in style!

The first thing I noticed was all of the obelisks. Among the obelisks are some really impressive monuments, both in size and beauty.

Graceland MonumentsThe grand family vaults also impressed me with their ornate doors and arches.

Graceland VaultsThere are also the understated memorials, including Daniel Burnham’s island grave site surrounded by willows and other plants with a large boulder and simple plaque for a headstone.

Graceland CemetaryI did not have a cemetery map with me, so I just roamed about.  Only one other couple was there, driving around in their car, and I really enjoyed the serenity as I wandered up and down the lanes seeing the beautiful monuments and recognizing that so much of Chicago’s history is resting in one beautiful place.

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