In New York City, walking up the steps of Grant’s Tomb fills visitors with a sense of national pride and awe.
Finished in 1897, 12 years after Grant’s death, the tomb rises 150 feet to a domed top that overlooks the Hudson River, honoring and holding the remains of the 18th American president and victorious Civil War general. On the facade of the tomb is inscribed a quote attributed to Grant: “Let us have peace.” Inside, Grant and his wife Julia are interred in a pair of massive red granite sarcophagi housed in a subterranean chamber. It’s the second largest mausoleum in the Western Hemisphere.
The tomb was devastated by a long period of neglect starting when the National Park Service gained control of the site in 1958. Lacking a formal plan for the tomb, and in the midst of New York’s economic downturn of the 1960s and 1970s, the tomb was marred and scarred with graffiti and vandalism and its exterior nooks and crannies were a popular haven for drug dealers and the homeless. A grassroots rehabilitation effort gradually took hold starting in the early 1990s and today the tomb has been restored to its former glory.
Grant’s Tomb is perhaps best known as part of a riddle: “Who’s buried in Grant’s Tomb?” The correct answer to the trick question is “nobody.” The remains of both Grant and his wife are entombed in their sarcophagi aboveground. Nobody is buried in Grant’s Tomb.
Know Before You Go
Accessible from the 1 Train at 125 Street Station.