Press Release

At Gillibrand’s Urging, Feds Designate Woodlawn Cemetery As National Historic Landmark

Jun 30, 2011

Bronx, NY –U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) announced today that the U.S. Department of the Interior designated Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx – recognized internationally as the resting place of many renowned Americans—as a National Historic Landmark. Since last year, Senator Gillibrand urged Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior Ken Salazar to designate the site as a National Historic Landmark.

Senator Gillibrand said, “This is great news. Woodlawn Cemetery’s importance is indisputable. Designating the Cemetery as a National Historic Landmark will help preserve the City’s heritage and maintain the memorial grounds that are recognized worldwide as the final resting place for so many famous New Yorkers and Americans who have played such prominent roles in our Nation’s history.”

John P. Toale Jr., President and CEO of The Woodlawn Cemetery, said, “As Woodlawn is approaching its 150th Anniversary in 2013, this designation verifies that cemeteries are relevant as historic sites. I thank Senator Gillibrand for helping to achieve this designation.”

The National Historic Landmark designation would support preservation efforts at Woodlawn Cemetery, ensuring that the site remains part of the City’s heritage for generations. Established in 1863, Woodlawn Cemetery honors three hundred thousand individuals who are memorialized on its grounds. The site’s monuments represent some of the nation’s finest examples of memorial architecture and art, including over thirteen hundred private mausoleums.

Iconic legends memorialized at Woodlawn Cemetery include women’s rights activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, jazz musicians Miles Davis and Duke Ellington, Former Mayor of New York City Fiorello H. La Guardia, Moby Dick author Herman Melville, as well as many other notable leaders of the arts, business, and civic life.

In October 2010, Senator Gillibrand threw her support behind the designation of Woodlawn Cemetery. The Senator recently reiterated her support for the project and urged Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar to expedite the designation.

The full text of Senator Gillibrand’s letter to Secretary Salazar is below:

Dear Secretary Salazar,

I applaud the National Register of Historic Places and National Historic Landmarks Program and the U.S. Department of the Interior for their decision to nominate Woodlawn Cemetery for designation as a National Historic Landmark. I supported the application in a letter to National Register Chief Paul Loether in October 2010 and was thrilled to have seen that the site received this nomination.

It is my understanding that the application submitted by Woodlawn Cemetery is awaiting final approval from the Department of the Interior. I once again would like to voice my strongest support possible for this application and hope that you can provide the final decision in an expedited manner.

This important distinction will allow Woodlawn Cemetery, which is located in the Bronx, New York City, to support preservation efforts, keeping this historic landmark as a part of the City’s heritage for years to come. The Cemetery’s importance is indisputable as it is recognized internationally as the final resting place for many famous Americans in our Nation’s history. Among these individuals are prominent women’s rights activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alva Belmont, Carrie Chapman Catt and C.J. Walker, the founder of the Salvation Army, Emma Booth, jazz musicians Miles Davis, Duke Ellington and W.C. Handy, and Moby Dick author Herman Melville.