Lake View Cemetery

Designers: Adolph Strauss (landscape architect) | City: Cleveland, OH | Project Type: cemetery, garden cemetery
Date Visited: 09.20.12

Location: 12316 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106
Size: 285 acres with over 65 acres remaining for future development
Official Opening Date: 1869

Lake View Cemetery is a well known landmark in Cleveland. Many Americans may find cemeteries creepy, but if you tell a Cleveland local you’ve played tourist to this local cemetery, they’ll likely nod and add: “it’s so nice isn’t it?”

A historical, horticultural, architectural and geological gem, 40,000 people are said to visit Lake View Cemetery every year. But at 285 acres of rolling hills, you’ll want to drive, bike, or, if you’re ambitious, put on your running shoes when you visit. I ended up biking. The experience of coasting down smooth, tranquil roads between centuries-old oak trees and hauntingly beautiful graves and garden crypts was amazing.

Lake View Cemetery was established in the open countryside in the late 1800s and continues to preserve that rural atmosphere today. This highly regarded cemetery design was born out of the rural cemetery movement, which started in the 1830s and oversaw the rise of landscaped cemeteries built in the style of English landscape design. Attracted by the rolling green lawns and pastoral beauty of these newly landscaped cemeteries, people used these green spaces as respite from the ills of the bustling cities. Families and friends congregated for strolls and picnics near tombstones and grave sites. Thus, these landscaped cemeteries began to give way and influence the design for some of America’s first public parks and the beginning of the American public parks and gardens movement was soon born.

A refuge for wildlife and a showplace for public art, this non-sectarian cemetery was designed to resemble Victorian English and French cemeteries by landscape architect Adolph Strauss. Over 105,000 people are buried at Lake View, with burials at the rate of approximately 700 per year. Lake View is also the final resting place of famous peoples including James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States, his family, as well as the famous business tycoon, John D. Rockefeller.

Interestingly enough, there is also a dam built inside the cemetery. It was built by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District in 1978.

Besides the beautiful architecture and rolling landscape–there are signs all over the cemetery asking people to not add artificial elements to the graves so as to retain the existing aesthetic–Lake View Cemetery is also a surprisingly impressive public garden. Of course I came in September, but were you to come in the spring, you’d reportedly be able to see more than 100,000 daffodils burst into bloom by the cemetery hillside. A wide variety of trees are also planted around the grounds–with identifying markers–from live oaks to ginkgos and even to a variety of fruit trees.

And although the cemetery lies miles inland, you can usually see a great view of Lake Erie from the cemetery’s highest point, located at the Garfield Monument. Unfortunately, given Cleveland’s fickle weather, by the time I reached the top it was really cloudy (Cleveland weather is crazily fickle) and the view left a little bit to be desired.

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