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
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
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 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
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
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
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
|Crown Hill National Cemetery
|Arlington National Cemetery
|Spring Grove Cemetery and Arboretum
|Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery
|Rose Hills Memorial Park and Mortuary
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com
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