Places & Landmarks

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Sleepy Hollow, New York, is one of the most storied and picturesque burial grounds in the United States. Nestled in the heart of the Hudson Valley, this historic cemetery is renowned for its connection to Washington Irving’s famous tale “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” as well as for its beautiful landscape and notable interments. With a rich history dating back to the 19th century, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is a place where the past comes alive through its legends, architecture, and the famous individuals laid to rest there.

Historical Background

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery was established in 1849, at a time when the rural cemetery movement was gaining popularity in America. This movement emphasized the creation of serene, park-like cemeteries that provided a peaceful resting place for the deceased and a tranquil environment for the living to visit and reflect. The cemetery was originally known as Tarrytown Cemetery but was renamed Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in 1865 to honor Washington Irving’s story and the village’s historical significance.

Connection to Washington Irving

Washington Irving, one of America’s earliest and most beloved authors, is closely associated with Sleepy Hollow. His 1820 short story, “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” immortalized the area and introduced the world to the characters of Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel, and the Headless Horseman. Irving himself is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, and his gravesite is a popular destination for visitors. His modest headstone lies near the Old Dutch Church, a key location in his tale.

The Headless Horseman bridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is framed by autumn colors.
The rustic bridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is a popular destination.

Notable Interments

Beyond Washington Irving, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is the final resting place for many prominent figures, including:

  • Elizabeth Arden: A pioneering businesswoman in the beauty and cosmetics industry.
  • Andrew Carnegie: The steel magnate and philanthropist who donated much of his fortune to libraries, education, and scientific research.
  • Walter Chrysler: Founder of the Chrysler Corporation, an influential figure in the American automotive industry.
  • Samuel Gompers: Founding president of the American Federation of Labor (AFL).
  • George Jones: co-founder of The New York Times.
  • William Rockefeller: Co-founder of Standard Oil, brother of John D. Rockefeller.
  • Thomas J. Watson: Founder of International Business Machines (IBM).

Architectural and Natural Beauty

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery spans over 90 acres and is a stunning example of landscape design. The rolling hills, ancient trees, winding pathways, and the winding Pocantico River create an atmosphere of tranquility and reflection. Many of the cemetery’s monuments and mausoleums are works of art in their own right, crafted by notable sculptors and architects of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

One of the most striking features is the Rockefeller mausoleum, an imposing structure that reflects the wealth and influence of the Rockefeller family. Additionally, the cemetery is home to several other impressive mausoleums, ornate headstones, and beautifully carved statues, each telling a story of the individuals and families interred there.

Visiting Sleepy Hollow Cemetery

The cemetery is open year-round, and visitors can take guided tours to learn more about its history, notable burials, and the legends of Sleepy Hollow. Special events, such as lantern tours and historical reenactments, offer unique opportunities to experience the cemetery in a new light. The cemetery’s well-maintained grounds provide a peaceful place for reflection, a walk through history, and a deeper understanding of the region’s cultural heritage.

The cemetery’s expectations for your visit are at: The cemetery reminds everyone to act as if they are attending the funeral or grave of a beloved relative or friend. Others will be doing exactly that.

Jim is superintendent of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery where he has researched the cemetery’s history for more than 20 years. He draws on an extensive collection of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown historical resources for the material on Sleepy Hollow Country.

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