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The most famous residents of New York City's cemeteries

Meet the notable actors, musicians, politicians, and others who call NYC’s cemeteries home

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New York's celebrity contingent doesn't just occupy swanky Upper East Side mansions and cool downtown lofts; if you head to the outer boroughs, you'll find a plethora of famous New Yorkers who have chosen the city as their home … for eternity.

A large number of famous folks are buried in NYC's cemeteries, such as Green-Wood in Brooklyn or Woodlawn in the Bronx. And while cemetery-creeping isn't an activity that everyone enjoys, many of these graveyards are open to the public, should you want to make a pilgrimage.

Here, then, are 25 of the most famous residents of New York City's cemeteries, including New York City politicos and power brokers (Ed Koch, Fiorello La Guardia, Robert Moses), musicians, artists, socialites, and more. Did we leave your favorite person off? Let us know in the comments or on the tipline.

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Alexander Hamilton: Trinity Church

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The man on the $10 bill's star has risen recently thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda's massively popular Broadway musical, but his grave has always been bombastic. A huge white marble pyramid marks the final resting place of the Founding Father, who was born in the West Indies but spent most of his life in New York City—right up until his death by dueling pistol at the hands of his rival, Aaron Burr. Hamilton died of his wounds at a friend's house in the West Village.

Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com

Angelica and Elizabeth Schuyler: Trinity Church

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Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, the historically influential Schuyler sisters have been brought to the public eye. And though they probably didn't belt and strut like their musical counterparts, Alexander Hamilton's wife, Elizabeth, and her sister, Angelica, were prominent in early American history. Elizabeth cofounded the first orphanage in New York and helped raise funds for the Washington Monument; Angelica, meanwhile, was the crème of society in New York, Paris and London, and corresponded with Founding Fathers like Jefferson and Washington. They're both buried in the shadow of Hamilton's monolithic monument.

A post shared by Stacy Luks (@flourishtravel) on

Peter Stuyvesant: St. Marks Church-In-The-Bowery

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The architect of old New York is buried not far from the Manhattan street that bears his name: Peter Stuyvesant, who came to New York (then New Amsterdam) in 1647, passed away in 1672 and was buried at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery. A stained glass window in the church bears his likeness, and was rededicated in 2009 to celebrate the anniversary of Henry Hudson's arrival in America.

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Ulysses S. Grant: Grant’s Tomb

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You know the joke about Grant’s Tomb, but did you know that the former president’s remains are interred in the largest mausoleum in the country? Architect John Duncan was commissioned to design the tomb following Grant’s death in 1885, and it was dedicated in 1897. (And donations of about $600,000 from people around the world helped it come together.) These days, it’s a national park.

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Ed Koch: Trinity Church Cemetery

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In 2008, former mayor Ed Koch told the New York Times that "the idea of leaving Manhattan permanently irritates me"; hence, he secured a burial plot in Trinity Church's uptown cemetery years before his death. When he passed in 2013, his tombstone was inscribed with a quote from late journalist Daniel Pearl: "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish." (Koch's marker was also, unfortunately, inscribed with the wrong date of birth, but that was corrected soon thereafter.)

Andrew Savulich/NY Daily News via Getty Images

Jerry Orbach: Trinity Church Cemetery

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When the venerable Law & Order and theater actor passed away in 2004, his funeral was a star-studded affair; former costars like Chita Rivera, Chris Noth, and Benjamin Bratt paid their respects. Orbach is interred in a mausoleum at Trinity Church, and his wife, Elaine joined him in 2009.

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John Jacob Astor IV: Trinity Church Cemetery

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Of the many heirs of the prominent Astor family, John Jacob's story is particularly sad: He was one of the passengers aboard the ill-fated Titanic, and remained behind after helping his pregnant wife board one of the lifeboats. His body was recovered a few weeks after the ship sank, and he's now buried in this tomb. He's one of seven members of the Astor clan laid to rest in the cemetery.

Library of Congress

Robert Moses: Woodlawn Cemetery

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Perhaps no one person has so influenced the appearance of New York City than urban planner Robert Moses. He drastically reimagined the shape and functionality of the city during the middle of the 20th century, orchestrating the building and reimagining of parks, bridges, tunnels, highways and art institutions. But for as large as his legacy looms, his gravesite within Woodlawn Cemetery is rather plain and unadorned; it’s a crypt he shares with his wife, Mary.

Herman Melville: Woodlawn Cemetery

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The O.G. Great American Novelist may be known for his years at sea and in New England, but he was born and buried right here in New York City. In his later years, the Moby-Dick scribe did double duty as a writer and customs inspector in Manhattan. In his obituary, the New York Times dubbed his then-ignored novel Mobie Dick. In the ultimate irony, the wordy Melville’s gravestone bears an image of a large, blank roll of paper. 

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Fiorello LaGuardia: Woodlawn Cemetery

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The former mayor of NYC died in 1947, and his body lay in state at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine before being moved to his final resting place at Woodlawn Cemetery. Despite his larger-than-life persona, his grave marker is modest, noting his status as a "statesman" and a "humanitarian."

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Miles Davis: Woodlawn Cemetery

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This seminal horn player was at the forefront of decades of jazz movements, from bebop to jazz fusion. From Birth of the Cool to Bitches Brew and beyond, Davis's albums were so influential that he was knighted by France's Legion of Honor, and his album Kind of Blue was honored by U.S. House of Representatives. Sir Miles is interred in Woodlawn alongside other jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.

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Celia Cruz: Woodlawn Cemetery

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The "Queen of Salsa" was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery after her death in 2003, and in the years since it's become a pilgrimage site for fans of the Cuban musician. According to a Times article from 2009, people travel to lay trinkets, flowers, and photographs on Cruz's tombstone.

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Irving Berlin: Woodlawn Cemetery

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One of America’s most legendary songwriters, the man behind tunes from “White Christmas” to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” lived to the ripe old age of 101. Berlin was born in Russia, but grew up on in the tenements of the Lower East Side and spent most of his life in the city. Though he retired in the ’60s, the impossibly prolific Berlin’s compositions and lyrics shaped American music. 

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Billie Holiday: St. Raymond New Cemetery

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Born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia, Billie Holiday's haunting, singular delivery of the blues left an indelible mark on American music. After spending her early years as a prostitute, the Holiday rose up from the gutter by singing in the great nightclubs of the Harlem Renaissance. She went on to legendary fame, but suffered a lifelong addiction to alcohol and heroin that was to be her downfall. She died in poverty at 44, and shares a tombstone with her mother at far-flung Saint Raymond's. 

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Louis Armstrong: Flushing Cemetery

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Legendary jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong is buried under a white marble effigy of his beloved horn, with his nickname—"Satchmo"—adorning his headstone. Born into poverty in New Orleans, rising to prominence thanks to his musical genius. He spent decades of his life touring, but eventually landed in Queens. His star-studded funeral numbered Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Ed Sullivan among the honorary pallbearers.

A post shared by Lenny Bednarz (@lennyb73) on

Dizzy Gillespie: Flushing Cemetery

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The other king of the jazz trumpet is also buried in Flushing Cemetery: Dizzy Gillespie. He was instrumental in the rise of bebop in the 1940s alongside sax man Charlie Parker, playing Harlem clubs like Minton's Playhouse. Gillespie announced himself as a write-in candidate in the 1964 presidential election, with comedian Phyllis Diller as his running mate. We would've totally voted for that ticket. He's buried beside his mother in an unmarked grave.

A post shared by Jason Cuadrado (@cinemonster) on

Texas Guinian: Calvary Cemetery

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She may not be as big a name as Billie Holiday or Basquiat, but Texas Guinian looms large in pop culture; the onetime chorus girl and speakeasy operator served as the inspiration for characters in the musical Chicago and short stories by Damon Runyon. She’s buried in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, which is better known as a burial spot for members of the armed forces.

A post shared by Gage Gardner (@dggardner) on

Robert Mapplethorpe: St. John Cemetery

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This groundbreaking photographer found the beauty in provocative subject matter, bringing the same artful eye to homoerotic BDSM imagery as he did to vases of flowers. Born in Queens, Mapplethorpe was a major figure in the downtown art scene of the ’70s and ’80s, as chronicled by his lifelong friend Patti Smith in her memoir Just Kids. He died of AIDS at the age of 42; his ashes are interred in the coffin of his mother, who perished just a few weeks after her son.

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John Gotti: St. John Cemetery

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St. John Cemetery in Middle Village is home to an Italian social club's worth of deceased mobsters, including old-timers like Vito Genovese and Lucky Luciano. (It also happens to be where Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York, is buried.) But its flashiest resident, the late John Gotti, has a surprisingly simple tomb; the "Dapper Don" is buried in a plain crypt next to his son, Frank, who died in 1980.

Harry Houdini: Machpelah Cemetery

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Grave markers don't get much more grandiose than that of the world's most famous magician, who's buried in a small Jewish cemetery in Queens. The storied escape artist died from a ruptured appendix caused by an ill-timed punch to the gut at 52, and was buried at a large funeral. The memorial, which includes benches, an effigy of a weeping woman and a bust of Houdini, is maintained by the Society of American Magicians and the Scranton Houdini Museum. Thanks to Houdini's interest in the occult, devotees leave all sorts of strange trinkets on his grave.

Montgomery Clift: Quaker Cemetery

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Hollywood heartthrob Montgomery Clift was one of the silver screen's preeminent Method actors, playing anguished leading men in classics like From Here to Eternity, A Place in the Sun and The Misfits. A car accident in 1956 left Clift physically transformed and pill-addicted, and he died of a heart attack in his Upper East Side townhouse at the age of 45. He's buried in a private Quaker graveyard in Prospect Park.

Jim Henderson/Wikimedia Commons

Charles Ebbets: Green-Wood Cemetery

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The former owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers—and the man who put his name on the team's beloved stadium, Ebbets Field—was a Brooklyn lifer, even serving on the borough's City Council for a spell. So it makes sense that he's buried in Kings County's most famous cemetery: His plot is located in Green-Wood's southwestern corner.

A post shared by Lenny Bednarz (@lennyb73) on

Leonard Bernstein: Green-Wood Cemetery

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A simple marker at the top of Battle Hill, the highest point in Brooklyn, marks the final resting place of this groundbreaking composer, conductor and pianist. He changed the face of musical theater with his music for West Side Story and Candide, and led the New York Philharmonic in more than 1,200 performances. And he took his love of classical music to the grave: Bernstein was buried with a copy of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony over his heart. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat: Green-Wood Cemetery

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In his short life, this Brooklyn-born iconoclast took New York by storm as a painter, musician and haver of epic hair. His punk-tinged primitivist work challenged social norms and earned him a place of privilege the art world, but he died at just 27 of a heroin overdose. The inscription on his grave marker at Green-Wood Cemetery below his name simply reads “ARTIST.”

DeWitt Clinton: Green-Wood Cemetery

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DeWitt Clinton wore many hats during his lifetime: senator, New York governor, Erie Canal booster, and more. When he died in 1828, his family could barely afford a proper burial; but now, he's buried in Green-Wood Cemetery with a large monument dedicated to him nearby.

Wikimedia Commons

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Alexander Hamilton: Trinity Church

Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com

The man on the $10 bill's star has risen recently thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda's massively popular Broadway musical, but his grave has always been bombastic. A huge white marble pyramid marks the final resting place of the Founding Father, who was born in the West Indies but spent most of his life in New York City—right up until his death by dueling pistol at the hands of his rival, Aaron Burr. Hamilton died of his wounds at a friend's house in the West Village.

Zack Frank/Shutterstock.com

Angelica and Elizabeth Schuyler: Trinity Church

Thanks to Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, the historically influential Schuyler sisters have been brought to the public eye. And though they probably didn't belt and strut like their musical counterparts, Alexander Hamilton's wife, Elizabeth, and her sister, Angelica, were prominent in early American history. Elizabeth cofounded the first orphanage in New York and helped raise funds for the Washington Monument; Angelica, meanwhile, was the crème of society in New York, Paris and London, and corresponded with Founding Fathers like Jefferson and Washington. They're both buried in the shadow of Hamilton's monolithic monument.

A post shared by Stacy Luks (@flourishtravel) on

Peter Stuyvesant: St. Marks Church-In-The-Bowery

Shutterstock.com

The architect of old New York is buried not far from the Manhattan street that bears his name: Peter Stuyvesant, who came to New York (then New Amsterdam) in 1647, passed away in 1672 and was buried at St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery. A stained glass window in the church bears his likeness, and was rededicated in 2009 to celebrate the anniversary of Henry Hudson's arrival in America.

Shutterstock.com

Ulysses S. Grant: Grant’s Tomb

Shutterstock.com

You know the joke about Grant’s Tomb, but did you know that the former president’s remains are interred in the largest mausoleum in the country? Architect John Duncan was commissioned to design the tomb following Grant’s death in 1885, and it was dedicated in 1897. (And donations of about $600,000 from people around the world helped it come together.) These days, it’s a national park.

Shutterstock.com

Ed Koch: Trinity Church Cemetery

Andrew Savulich/NY Daily News via Getty Images

In 2008, former mayor Ed Koch told the New York Times that "the idea of leaving Manhattan permanently irritates me"; hence, he secured a burial plot in Trinity Church's uptown cemetery years before his death. When he passed in 2013, his tombstone was inscribed with a quote from late journalist Daniel Pearl: "My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish." (Koch's marker was also, unfortunately, inscribed with the wrong date of birth, but that was corrected soon thereafter.)

Andrew Savulich/NY Daily News via Getty Images

Jerry Orbach: Trinity Church Cemetery

When the venerable Law & Order and theater actor passed away in 2004, his funeral was a star-studded affair; former costars like Chita Rivera, Chris Noth, and Benjamin Bratt paid their respects. Orbach is interred in a mausoleum at Trinity Church, and his wife, Elaine joined him in 2009.

A post shared by Alice Teeple (@aliceteeple) on

John Jacob Astor IV: Trinity Church Cemetery

Library of Congress

Of the many heirs of the prominent Astor family, John Jacob's story is particularly sad: He was one of the passengers aboard the ill-fated Titanic, and remained behind after helping his pregnant wife board one of the lifeboats. His body was recovered a few weeks after the ship sank, and he's now buried in this tomb. He's one of seven members of the Astor clan laid to rest in the cemetery.

Library of Congress

Robert Moses: Woodlawn Cemetery

Perhaps no one person has so influenced the appearance of New York City than urban planner Robert Moses. He drastically reimagined the shape and functionality of the city during the middle of the 20th century, orchestrating the building and reimagining of parks, bridges, tunnels, highways and art institutions. But for as large as his legacy looms, his gravesite within Woodlawn Cemetery is rather plain and unadorned; it’s a crypt he shares with his wife, Mary.

Herman Melville: Woodlawn Cemetery

Wikimedia Commons

The O.G. Great American Novelist may be known for his years at sea and in New England, but he was born and buried right here in New York City. In his later years, the Moby-Dick scribe did double duty as a writer and customs inspector in Manhattan. In his obituary, the New York Times dubbed his then-ignored novel Mobie Dick. In the ultimate irony, the wordy Melville’s gravestone bears an image of a large, blank roll of paper. 

Wikimedia Commons

Fiorello LaGuardia: Woodlawn Cemetery

Wikimedia Commons

The former mayor of NYC died in 1947, and his body lay in state at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine before being moved to his final resting place at Woodlawn Cemetery. Despite his larger-than-life persona, his grave marker is modest, noting his status as a "statesman" and a "humanitarian."

Wikimedia Commons

Miles Davis: Woodlawn Cemetery

This seminal horn player was at the forefront of decades of jazz movements, from bebop to jazz fusion. From Birth of the Cool to Bitches Brew and beyond, Davis's albums were so influential that he was knighted by France's Legion of Honor, and his album Kind of Blue was honored by U.S. House of Representatives. Sir Miles is interred in Woodlawn alongside other jazz greats like Duke Ellington and Lionel Hampton.

A post shared by Ray Hogan (@rayhogan23) on

Celia Cruz: Woodlawn Cemetery

The "Queen of Salsa" was buried at Woodlawn Cemetery after her death in 2003, and in the years since it's become a pilgrimage site for fans of the Cuban musician. According to a Times article from 2009, people travel to lay trinkets, flowers, and photographs on Cruz's tombstone.

A post shared by Scott Lebron (@scott_lebron) on

Irving Berlin: Woodlawn Cemetery

Wikimedia Commons

One of America’s most legendary songwriters, the man behind tunes from “White Christmas” to “Puttin’ on the Ritz” lived to the ripe old age of 101. Berlin was born in Russia, but grew up on in the tenements of the Lower East Side and spent most of his life in the city. Though he retired in the ’60s, the impossibly prolific Berlin’s compositions and lyrics shaped American music. 

Wikimedia Commons

Billie Holiday: St. Raymond New Cemetery

Born Eleanora Fagan in Philadelphia, Billie Holiday's haunting, singular delivery of the blues left an indelible mark on American music. After spending her early years as a prostitute, the Holiday rose up from the gutter by singing in the great nightclubs of the Harlem Renaissance. She went on to legendary fame, but suffered a lifelong addiction to alcohol and heroin that was to be her downfall. She died in poverty at 44, and shares a tombstone with her mother at far-flung Saint Raymond's. 

A post shared by garman freeman (@garman_freeman) on

Louis Armstrong: Flushing Cemetery

Legendary jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong is buried under a white marble effigy of his beloved horn, with his nickname—"Satchmo"—adorning his headstone. Born into poverty in New Orleans, rising to prominence thanks to his musical genius. He spent decades of his life touring, but eventually landed in Queens. His star-studded funeral numbered Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Ed Sullivan among the honorary pallbearers.

A post shared by Lenny Bednarz (@lennyb73) on

Dizzy Gillespie: Flushing Cemetery

The other king of the jazz trumpet is also buried in Flushing Cemetery: Dizzy Gillespie. He was instrumental in the rise of bebop in the 1940s alongside sax man Charlie Parker, playing Harlem clubs like Minton's Playhouse. Gillespie announced himself as a write-in candidate in the 1964 presidential election, with comedian Phyllis Diller as his running mate. We would've totally voted for that ticket. He's buried beside his mother in an unmarked grave.

A post shared by Jason Cuadrado (@cinemonster) on

Texas Guinian: Calvary Cemetery

She may not be as big a name as Billie Holiday or Basquiat, but Texas Guinian looms large in pop culture; the onetime chorus girl and speakeasy operator served as the inspiration for characters in the musical Chicago and short stories by Damon Runyon. She’s buried in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, which is better known as a burial spot for members of the armed forces.

A post shared by Gage Gardner (@dggardner) on

Robert Mapplethorpe: St. John Cemetery

Wikimedia Commons

This groundbreaking photographer found the beauty in provocative subject matter, bringing the same artful eye to homoerotic BDSM imagery as he did to vases of flowers. Born in Queens, Mapplethorpe was a major figure in the downtown art scene of the ’70s and ’80s, as chronicled by his lifelong friend Patti Smith in her memoir Just Kids. He died of AIDS at the age of 42; his ashes are interred in the coffin of his mother, who perished just a few weeks after her son.

Wikimedia Commons

John Gotti: St. John Cemetery

St. John Cemetery in Middle Village is home to an Italian social club's worth of deceased mobsters, including old-timers like Vito Genovese and Lucky Luciano. (It also happens to be where Mario Cuomo, former governor of New York, is buried.) But its flashiest resident, the late John Gotti, has a surprisingly simple tomb; the "Dapper Don" is buried in a plain crypt next to his son, Frank, who died in 1980.

Harry Houdini: Machpelah Cemetery

Grave markers don't get much more grandiose than that of the world's most famous magician, who's buried in a small Jewish cemetery in Queens. The storied escape artist died from a ruptured appendix caused by an ill-timed punch to the gut at 52, and was buried at a large funeral. The memorial, which includes benches, an effigy of a weeping woman and a bust of Houdini, is maintained by the Society of American Magicians and the Scranton Houdini Museum. Thanks to Houdini's interest in the occult, devotees leave all sorts of strange trinkets on his grave.

Montgomery Clift: Quaker Cemetery

Jim Henderson/Wikimedia Commons

Hollywood heartthrob Montgomery Clift was one of the silver screen's preeminent Method actors, playing anguished leading men in classics like From Here to Eternity, A Place in the Sun and The Misfits. A car accident in 1956 left Clift physically transformed and pill-addicted, and he died of a heart attack in his Upper East Side townhouse at the age of 45. He's buried in a private Quaker graveyard in Prospect Park.

Jim Henderson/Wikimedia Commons

Charles Ebbets: Green-Wood Cemetery

The former owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers—and the man who put his name on the team's beloved stadium, Ebbets Field—was a Brooklyn lifer, even serving on the borough's City Council for a spell. So it makes sense that he's buried in Kings County's most famous cemetery: His plot is located in Green-Wood's southwestern corner.

A post shared by Lenny Bednarz (@lennyb73) on

Leonard Bernstein: Green-Wood Cemetery

A simple marker at the top of Battle Hill, the highest point in Brooklyn, marks the final resting place of this groundbreaking composer, conductor and pianist. He changed the face of musical theater with his music for West Side Story and Candide, and led the New York Philharmonic in more than 1,200 performances. And he took his love of classical music to the grave: Bernstein was buried with a copy of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony over his heart. 

Jean-Michel Basquiat: Green-Wood Cemetery

In his short life, this Brooklyn-born iconoclast took New York by storm as a painter, musician and haver of epic hair. His punk-tinged primitivist work challenged social norms and earned him a place of privilege the art world, but he died at just 27 of a heroin overdose. The inscription on his grave marker at Green-Wood Cemetery below his name simply reads “ARTIST.”

DeWitt Clinton: Green-Wood Cemetery

Wikimedia Commons

DeWitt Clinton wore many hats during his lifetime: senator, New York governor, Erie Canal booster, and more. When he died in 1828, his family could barely afford a proper burial; but now, he's buried in Green-Wood Cemetery with a large monument dedicated to him nearby.

Wikimedia Commons