Walking Tour

Leaf Peeping in Green-Wood Cemetery

Artist Matthew Jensen takes you on a walking tour around the 478-acre grounds of this National Historic Landmark.

Photo courtesy of Green-Wood Historic Fund

Every October, there’s a rush of articles about Green-Wood Cemetery, cashing in on the grounds’ amazing architecture and rolling hills as a mostly overlooked place to go for spooky fun and A+ Instagrammable moments. As a nearby neighbor, I look to Green-Wood not for supernatural chills but for peace. On most non-Halloween–related days, much of the 478-acre National Historic Landmark is nearly empty, and a short walk into the heart of the cemetery space reveals a quiet oasis in the middle of Brooklyn, packed with Gothic architecture and stunning statuary.

Artist Matthew Jensen has found his own unique way to appreciate the often-solitary sanctuary of Green-Wood. Taking advantage of the cemetery’s little-known status as a nationally recognized arboretum, which includes 7,000 trees, Jensen has mapped out a walking tour of the grounds and the locations of the 182 living American beech trees that dot the graveyard. Many of these natural giants are more than a century old, each wearing a one-of-a-kind and achingly beautiful pachydermic suit. Jensen has photographed dozens of them at Green-Wood, capturing window-size portraits of the majestic trees side by side with the manmade monuments they shade.

green wood cemetery brooklyn
Photo courtesy of Green-Wood Historic Fund

This special three-hour tree-centric tour will be led by the artist himself. Among other luminaries, you’ll see the final resting place of famed New York artist Jean-Michel Basquiat and the nearby stump where visiting fans leave carved crowns as tribute. The tour finishes with entry to Jensen’s exhibition of tree photography in the Fort Hamilton Gatehouse, along with ephemera and art from Green-Wood’s archives, including stereoscopic images of the grounds in the heyday of the late 1800s and a selection of found-on-site Native American beads and arrowheads. You’ll also receive a poster of Jensen’s beech map, fit for framing.

Why You Should Go: Fall weather means brightly colored leaves and brisk weather. Where better to get a first taste of a suddenly chilly November than within the breathtaking grounds of Green-Wood, exploring the vast array of the cemetery’s towering trees?

Artist Walk: Discovering Trees and Stones
Green-Wood Cemetery (corner of Fort Hamilton Parkway and Micieli Place), Greenwood
Saturday, November 18
Noon–3 p.m.
$25; $20 for members

Have a full-blown autumnal romp around Brooklyn. Our experience advisers know just where to go in the area.