Graceland Cemetery

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4001 North Clark Street,  Chicago Illinois, 60613   773-525-1105

In Devil and the White City:

“Both (Daniel Burnham and his wife Margaret) are buried in Chicago, in Graceland, on a tiny island in the cemetery’s only pond.  John Root lies nearby, as do the Palmers, Louis Sullivan, Mayor Harrison, Marshall Field, Philip Armour, and so many others, in vaults and tombs that vary from the simple to the grand.  Potter and Bertha still dominate things, as if stature mattered even in death. They occupy a massive acropolis with fifteen giant columns atop the only high ground, overlooking the pond.  The others cluster around.  On a crystalline fall day you can almost hear the tinkle of fine crystal, the rustle of silk and wool.  Almost smell the expensive cigars.”

In Real Life:

It seems everyone who was anyone around the time of the World’s Columbian Exposition was put to rest at Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery. I wanted to check it out – of course – and on every visit to Chicago while my daughter was going to University of Chicago – I never DSC_0066managed to make it out there. Then, she graduated and moved to the Northside – and on what would be my final visit to Chicago for awhile – because she was moving to New York City – I said – what about Graceland Cemetery? I’d like to see it. She looked at me and said – Graceland? – that’s right near my house. So, my daughter, my sister and I headed over – entered the cemetery – grabbed a map from the security guard and – of course – discovered the pond was at the opposite side. We trudged through the graves for what seemed like miles and DSC_0073finally made it to the pond. Yes – Potter and Bertha Palmer had set themselves up even in death. We walked around their massive acropolis. And then I set out to look for the grave of the architect Daniel Burnham. We followed the markers, crossed the bridge to the island and I looked for something big. I was so overcome by what I saw – it surprised me. The gravesite of Daniel Burnham was a simple rock. If there were no marker – I wouldn’t have known it. I marveled at that. I marveled that a man who created so many beautiful landmark buildings in Chicago, a man who protected the city forever by laying out so much open space – was remembered on a rock. If the Potters were sending a message from the grave – so was Daniel Burnham.

Tour Information:

So – you can do what we did and arm yourself with a map from the front office and walk around and find the graves you’re interested in. Or – you can take a tour provided, once again, by the Chicago Architectural Foundation by checking their website.

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