Sunday, October 23, 2011

The best real estate in Brooklyn

Today I took a stroll through Green-Wood Cemetery. It contains the highest land in Brooklyn with amazing views. It's the cite of a Revolutionary War battle, and resting place for thousands. Edward Ferrero, founder of The Apollo rests there, as do many other famous folks. 

There are hundreds of mausoleums, tombs, obelisks, pyramids, and all manner of memorials and monuments.The rolling hills, the hillside mausoleums, so many with Roman or Greek architecture, made me wonder if this is what cemeteries looked like in ancient times. The mausoleums reminded me of the Etruscan houses of the dead, but with stained glass instead of frescoes and pictures of the afterlife instead of scenes from daily life. 

My first stop was to the top of a hill where there where three incredibly tall obelisks, which from afar looked like the left, right and middle pillars.

From Hermes Guide of Souls by Karl Kerényi:
He guards not only gardens but graves. Wherever he is
placed is mortis et vitai locus, the place of life and death.
This epigram, which so succinctly and precisely describes his
vital place in the realm of death, derives from the time of the
first Caesars (CIL, VI, 3708); it agrees, however, with the
Phrygian usage of placing phalli on graves as markers.

Green-wood was the model on which Central Park was designed. There was a lack of public green spaces, so the cemetery also served as a park. It was finally named a landmark and hosts tours of the cemetery as well as letting people into the mausoleums. There are also performances and movie screenings and other events. I find this funny because about 10 years ago someone tried to do this very thing, specifically the movie screenings and music performances in the chapel, pictured above, and they were vilified as if they were personally desecrating graves. How times change. He had it right- it was intended to be a place for the living as well as the dead.

I also stopped to pay my respects to Minerva and The Altar of Liberty, set atop the highest point in Brooklyn, and, appropriately, hailing the Statue of Liberty.This was done intentionally. Minerva's raised hand is exactly in line with Liberty's raised torch. There was a big dust-up about a proposed condo building which would have come between the two. The Goddesses prevailed and the building was redesigned with a cut out so the two would remain within hailing sight of each other. 

Take your own tour:

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