Uptown is a very good place to go to get buried. Many have. The area is home to two separate cemeteries, Graceland and St. Boniface. Graceland is right across the street from Wunder’s Cemetery to the south in Lakeview and the Andersonville neighborhood which crosses from Uptown north into Edgewater, borders on a fourth cemetery, Rosehill. If you were looking to consolidate your search for interment while keeping your options open, you could certainly do worse than Uptown.
Cemeteries usually do not allow bikes on their grounds, so we only get to explore the gates of most area cemeteries on our tours, or any outlier buildings that are visible from the street. Not everything can be part of the tours, which is perfectly fine. We don’t go in buildings and we don’t enter cemeteries and as a general rule, these are exterior-only tours on bicycles. Still, cemeteries are an essential link to our city’s history and a focus of mine on the research side of the tours so during my planing, I will just walk the grounds of the cemeteries in the area.
Graceland Cemetery is particularly interesting and is one of the Victorian era cemeteries in Chicago to house so many noteworthy individuals in Chicago’s past, that reading the names of those buried on its grounds is a roll call of the city’s founders, builders, leaders, legends, scoundrels. Amongst those interred at Graceland are one of the earliest city settlers, Dexter Graves. Alan Pinkerton, the famous lawman and founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency is buried here, along with one of his employees, Kate Warne, the first female detective in the US. Piano maker William Kimball, US Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller, boxing champions Bob Fitzsimmons and Jack Johnson, Chicago Mayors Joseph Medill, Fred Busse, Carter Harrisons Sr. and Jr., inventor and railway industrialist George Pullman, Charles Dickens’ brother Augustus and many other famous citizenry dot the grounds. The names are like a listing of Chicago streets and famous brands….Armour, Lawson, McCormick, Kinzie, Clark, Goodman, Honore, Wacker, Field, Palmer…
Graceland is also commonly referred to as “The Cemetery of Architects” with permanent residents that include Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Howard Van Doren Shaw, Marion Mahoney Griffin, William Le Baron Jenny, William Holabird, Henry Bacon, Bruce Goff, Dwight Perkins, John Root, David Adler and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as well as noted structural engineer Fazlur Khan and architectural photographer and preservationist Richard Nickel.
Exploring the markers and tombs of Graceland is a peaceful repose. Lock up your bike, and take a visit to stroll the grounds of Graceland and you will be rewarded with a serene decampment in an area otherwise overwhelmed with bustle, just north of the chaos that Wrigley wrought. Graceland takes over the intersection of Irving and Clark with imposing and somber beauty. It’s walled exterior and entrance do nothing to reveal its inner calm and its serene order, far more impacting and impressive than its dour boundaries suggest. It is an area poised to make you want to remember and to be at peace and its effects are tranquil, calming. It is an area I recommend you make time to explore on your own, offering us all a unique link to Chicago’s history.
This Saturday, November 8 at 11:00 I will be at the fieldhouse at Chase Park at 4701 N Ashland for the Tour of Uptown. While we won’t get to explore the grounds of Graceland directly, we will visit its gates and learn its history and riders will get to check out works by architectural icons like Dwight Perkins, Rapp and Rapp, Henry J. Schlack, Barry Byrne, George Maher, Walter Ahlschlager, Herm V. Von Holst, Bruce Goff, Eben E. Roberts, Vernon Spencer Watson and Thomas Eddy Tallmadge. We’ll learn about the grand historic districts of Uptown, the split from Edgewater, Uptown’s neighbor to the north and we will visit numerous Chicago and National Landmarks, all while enjoying the crisp November weekend on our bikes. I hope you can join us.
Tour of Uptown
Saturday November 8, 2014 at 11:00 AM
Chase Park – 4701 N Ashland in Chicago