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Society Adventures: Moonlight in the Cemetery

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Belmont mausoleum in Woodlawn Cemetery(photograph by Kathryn Yu)

This month the New York Obscura Society partnered with the Woodlawn Conservancy for their inaugural full moon tour. The rare evening visit to Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx started as night was descending on New York City, and continued as the reddish full moon rose in the sky. 

Our tour was led by Cristiana Peña of the Woodlawn Conservancy, taking us from the grave of three people struck down at once by lightning, to the monolithic memorials to the New York elite, to the stunning Belmont mausoleum that is an exact replica of the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in France. We even got to step inside some of the ornate mausoleums, one which appropriately had constellations in mosaics on its domed ceiling. Woodlawn Cemetery dates back to the 19th century and has long been one of the city’s most beautiful and historic burial grounds, but seeing it in the dark with the light of the moon and flashlights is a totally different experience from exploring it in the day. 

The full moon tours are a new monthly event at Woodlawn Cemetery and we were thrilled to co-present the first one. The next will be held on Thursday, September 19. Click here for more details

Here are photographs from our moonlit walk through Woodlawn Cemetery:

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The sun sets in the cemetery 
(photograph by Allison Meier)

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The Harbeck mausoleum 
(photograph by Allison Meier)

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The Harbeck Mausoleum looming over us 
(photograph by Allison Meier)

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Constellations on a mausoleum ceiling (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

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One of the Woodlawn volunteers helping to guide us in the darkness (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

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A haunting statue, bidding farewell to the living or asking us to go with her? (photograph by Allison Meier)

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The full moon rises over the cemetery (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

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Mausoleum guarded by lions, one asleep, one awake (photograph by Allison Meier)

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This lion is awake (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

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Resting at the Garvan mausoleum (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

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The mausoleum of Celia Cruz (photograph by Allison Meier)

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The Belmont mausoleum (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

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Altar inside the Belmont mausoleum (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

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The grave of Oliver Belmont. Alva Vanderbilt Belmont is interred nearby. (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

article-imageThe ceiling of the Belmont mausoleum (photograph by Kathryn Yu)

Thanks so much to all who attended and we hope to see you at a future event! If you did any documentation of your own, we would love to hear about it. More photographs from Kathryn Yu are viewable here


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The Obscura Society is the real-world exploration arm of Atlas Obscura We seek out secret histories, unusual access, and opportunities for our community to explore strange and overlooked places hidden all around us. Join us on our next adventure!

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