The 6 Largest Cemeteries in the United States

Written by Erica Scassellati
Published: November 30, 2023
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The United States gained independence on July 4, 1776. Since then, many enormous and sprawling cemeteries have popped up throughout the country. Some of these burial grounds are reserved for the military and date back to the Civil War.

Others contain the burial sites of famous and prominent figures. Though it may seem macabre, there’s something incredible about the six largest cemeteries in the United States.

1. Calvary Cemetery

Calvary Cemetery

Calvary Cemetery dates back to 1848 and houses nearly three million graves.

©dibrova/iStock via Getty Images

One of the largest cemeteries in terms of the number of graves is Calvary Cemetery, located in Queens in New York City. It is a Roman Catholic facility named after the hill where Jesus Christ was crucified, according to the New Testament.

Plans to open Calvary Cemetery began amid a cholera epidemic and a shortage of burial grounds in the area. The first burial took place in 1848 after a woman reportedly “died of a broken heart.”

Queens historian Jeffrey Gottlieb stated that there were 50 burials a day in Calvary by 1852, according to Juniper Park Civic. Half of the deceased were “Irish poor under 7 years of age.” Today nearly three million graves lie within Calvary Cemetery. Notable burials on the grounds include those of Tony Bennett, Mickey Welch, and Claude McKay.

2. Arlington National Cemetery

A section of Arlington National Cemetary in Arlington, Virginia.

Arlington National Cemetery is the largest military cemetery in the United States.

©Kenneth Straka/Shutterstock.com

Located in Arlington, VA, Arlington National Cemetery is the largest military cemetery in the United States. The grounds stretch 639 acres and contain over 400,000 headstones, according to the Office of Army Cemeteries.

The property dates back to the early 1800s when it was owned by George Washington Parke Custis — the step-grandson of George Washington — who built Arlington House. During the Civil War, the home and its grounds were occupied by the troops of the Virginia militia.

The first military burial at Arlington National Cemetery took place in 1864. Today the grounds conduct 27 to 30 services each weekday. Arlington National Cemetery also features a welcome center, memorial amphitheater, and memorial arboretum. It is also the final resting place of John F. Kennedy and contains the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

3. Crown Hill National Cemetery

Crown Hill Cemetery Entrance, Indianapolis

One of the largest private cemeteries in the United States is Crown National Cemetery.

©Ted Alexander Somerville/Shutterstock.com

Crown Hill National Cemetery is one of the largest private cemeteries in the United States, stretching over 550 acres. Located in Indianapolis, IN the cemetery dates back to 1866, when the Federal Government purchased land within Crown Hill Cemetery to establish Crown Hill National Cemetery, writes National Park Services.

Today the cemetery is the final resting place for more than 2,100 soldiers and prominent figures such as President Benjamin Harrison, poet James Whitcomb Riley, and notorious gangster John Dillinger.

Veterans from every major conflict, including the Civil War and Vietnam are buried on this plot of land. In 1969 the cemetery closed to new internments, but visitors can still explore this incredible and historic site.

4. Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum

Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati; Ohio - Established in 1845, Spring Grove is the second largest cemetery in the United States.

Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum features man-made lakes, islands, and footbridges.

©Anne Kitzman/Shutterstock.com

Located in Cincinnati, OH, Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum isn’t just a beautiful spot to lay loved ones to rest. The cemetery dates back to 1845 and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.

Spring Grove is famous for its lawn plan, with lakes, islands, footbridges, protected woodland areas, and hundreds of trees weaving through the grounds. According to the cemetery’s website, Spring Grove’s arboretum is dedicated to collecting and displaying woody plants to enhance the educational, outreach, and research opportunities for its visitors.

5. Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery

red rose and military dog tags on a folded American flag on rustic wood

Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery provides a final resting place for thousands of active-duty military members.

©Maria Dryfhout/Shutterstock.com

At 982 acres, Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery is one of the largest final resting places in the United States. Located approximately 50 miles southwest of Chicago in Elwood, IL, the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery will provide 400,000 burial spaces once fully developed, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The cemetery is open to members of the armed forces who have met the minimum active duty service requirement. In 1999 the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery became the 117th national cemetery dedicated by the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.

6. Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary

incense burner on beautiful orchid flower background in chinese funeral ceremony

The Hua Yuan Center in Rose Hills Memorial Park accommodates many visitor needs, including traditional Chinese funerals.

©PhaiApirom/Shutterstock.com

Located in Whittier, CA, Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary is the largest cemetery in North America. The cemetery dates back to 1914 and continues to offer a place for loved ones to rest.

The 1,400-acre park doesn’t just include burial grounds and mausoleums. It also features multiple chapels, a rose garden, and the Hua Yuan Center.

Despite its enormous size, Rose Hill found itself struggling to cope with increased deaths amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, writes VOA News.

Demand for places of burial at Rose Hill nearly doubled in 2021 and increased safety precautions made it necessary to set up tented areas instead of using on-site chapels.

Summary of the 6 Largest Cemeteries in the United States

NumberCemeteryLocationAcres
1Calvary CemeteryQueens, NY365
2Crown Hill National CemeteryIndianapolis, IN550
3Arlington National CemeteryArlington, VA639
4Spring Grove Cemetery and ArboretumCincinnati, OH733
5Abraham Lincoln National CemeteryElwood, IL982
6Rose Hills Memorial Park and MortuaryWhittier, CA1,400

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Erica is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on history, food, and travel. Erica has over 3 years of experience as a content writer and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which she earned in 2018. A resident of Kansas City, Erica enjoys exploring her home town and traveling around the world to learn about different cultures and try new food.

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