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A paved road through a cemetery in late spring. The trees are bare and the grass is brown. There are tall stone and bronze tomb stones.
Graceland cemetery in Chicago.
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9 Chicago area historic cemeteries to explore

See the city’s oldest burial grounds

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Graceland cemetery in Chicago.
| Photo by Shutterstock

Chicago’s cemeteries pack a whole lot of history, haunted architecture, and nature (Graceland Cemetery doubles as an arboretum with tree tours).

One of the city’s most prominent lakefront green spaces, Lincoln Park, actually started out as a cemetery. Just a short drive away, Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery, is what some folks claim is the most haunted graveyard in the nation—a site that its keepers have abandoned. The city’s largest cemetery, Rosehill, has haunting Victorian era icons and a protected nature preserve.

These sites are well worth a visit for their memorials and historical figures: former Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, early architect Daniel H. Burnham, Olympian Jesse Owens, the Haymarket martyr memorial and war memorials.

Here are a few of the most notable cemeteries in the Chicago area.

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1. Graceland Cemetery

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4001 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60613

In 1860, this cemetery was established as the site that would be the new location for the bodies buried in the Chicago City Cemetery which originally located in Lincoln Park. Many of Chicago’s early architects rest here including Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Bruce Graham (he designed the John Hancock building and Sears Tower). It also serves as an arboretum with over 2,000 trees on its grounds.

2. Rosehill Cemetery

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5800 N Ravenswood Ave
Chicago, IL 60660
(773) 561-5940
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Designed by the architect of Chicago’s famous Water Tower, William Boyington, this cemetery has lots of Victorian era motifs including wrapped urns, ornamental obelisks, and bricked arches. The name actually comes from a clerical error—it was originally Roe’s Hill belonging to a farmer Hiram Roe. The land makes up the largest cemetery in the city and consists of a large Civil War and Firefighter memorials. If you do happen to visit, the West Ridge Nature Preserve is within the grounds.

3. Oak Woods Cemetery

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1035 E 67th St
Chicago, IL 60637

The Chicago Architecture Center offers a tour at the cemetery which is the burial site for African Americans who fought in the Civil War as well as Confederate prisoners of war. Visit the graves of Chicago’s first African American Mayor Harold Washington, civil rights leader and journalist Ida B. Wells, and Olympian Jesse Owens. It’s also nearby to Theaster Gates’ rehabbed Stony Island Arts Bank.

4. Bohemian National Cemetery

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5255 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60630

Built by Czech residents in 1877, the cemetery was established in response to the restriction of Catholic cemeteries and burials here are free of any religious ritual. The grounds are distinguished by a grand limestone gatehouse, memorials for the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and both World Wars. There are two sculptures from Albin Polasek, who led the sculpture department at the Art Institute of Chicago, named Mother and Pilgrim.

5. The Chicago City Cemetery

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Only one visible remnant exists of Chicago’s original cemetery underneath Lincoln Park: Couch Tomb. In 1869, the cemetery land became part of the public park so families began moving their relatives to other sites. It’s likely that this structure was too expensive to move at 50 tons and eventually city officials allowed it to remain now serving as reminder of the park’s origins.

6. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

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143rd St
Midlothian, IL 60445

Bachelor’s Grove is an abandoned cemetery, but that doesn’t stop ghost researchers and occult experts from wandering into the grounds for night hikes and tours. Some have declared it the most haunted graveyard in the country. If you’re hunting for paranormal activity, scary legends, floating orbs, phantom dogs—this Midlothian site won’t disappoint.

7. Calvary Catholic Cemetery

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301 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60202
(847) 864-3050
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Evanston’s cemetery dates back to 1859 and sits right on the lakefront. There’s a large stone gate and Chicago’s first woman Mayor Jane Byrne and the founding owner of the Chicago White Sox Charles Comiskey are both buried here.

8. Burr Oak Cemetery

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4400 w 123rd st
Alsip, IL

Built in 1927, Burr Oak serves as the final resting place for many people who were legacies in the black community. For example, legends like singer Dinah Washington and heavyweight boxing champion Ezzard Charles aree buried here. It is also where Emmett Till is buried, whose murder became a rallying point for the civil-rights movement.

9. Forest Home Cemetery

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863 Des Plaines Ave
Forest Park, IL 60130

Originally, this cemetery was a Potawatomi village and burial ground until German settlers claimed the land in 1835. Sometimes referred to as the Waldheim Cemetery, there are a few gateways and mausoleums that resemble the architecture of Masonic Temples built by Freemasons which ties into the cemetery’s origin. It’s also known for its memorial to the five Haymarket martyrs and was the only Chicago area cemetery to accept their remains.

1. Graceland Cemetery

4001 N Clark St, Chicago, IL 60613

In 1860, this cemetery was established as the site that would be the new location for the bodies buried in the Chicago City Cemetery which originally located in Lincoln Park. Many of Chicago’s early architects rest here including Daniel Burnham, Louis Sullivan, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, and Bruce Graham (he designed the John Hancock building and Sears Tower). It also serves as an arboretum with over 2,000 trees on its grounds.

4001 N Clark St
Chicago, IL 60613

2. Rosehill Cemetery

5800 N Ravenswood Ave, Chicago, IL 60660

Designed by the architect of Chicago’s famous Water Tower, William Boyington, this cemetery has lots of Victorian era motifs including wrapped urns, ornamental obelisks, and bricked arches. The name actually comes from a clerical error—it was originally Roe’s Hill belonging to a farmer Hiram Roe. The land makes up the largest cemetery in the city and consists of a large Civil War and Firefighter memorials. If you do happen to visit, the West Ridge Nature Preserve is within the grounds.

5800 N Ravenswood Ave
Chicago, IL 60660

3. Oak Woods Cemetery

1035 E 67th St, Chicago, IL 60637

The Chicago Architecture Center offers a tour at the cemetery which is the burial site for African Americans who fought in the Civil War as well as Confederate prisoners of war. Visit the graves of Chicago’s first African American Mayor Harold Washington, civil rights leader and journalist Ida B. Wells, and Olympian Jesse Owens. It’s also nearby to Theaster Gates’ rehabbed Stony Island Arts Bank.

1035 E 67th St
Chicago, IL 60637

4. Bohemian National Cemetery

5255 N Pulaski Rd, Chicago, IL 60630

Built by Czech residents in 1877, the cemetery was established in response to the restriction of Catholic cemeteries and burials here are free of any religious ritual. The grounds are distinguished by a grand limestone gatehouse, memorials for the Civil War, Spanish-American War, and both World Wars. There are two sculptures from Albin Polasek, who led the sculpture department at the Art Institute of Chicago, named Mother and Pilgrim.

5255 N Pulaski Rd
Chicago, IL 60630

5. The Chicago City Cemetery

Chicago, IL

Only one visible remnant exists of Chicago’s original cemetery underneath Lincoln Park: Couch Tomb. In 1869, the cemetery land became part of the public park so families began moving their relatives to other sites. It’s likely that this structure was too expensive to move at 50 tons and eventually city officials allowed it to remain now serving as reminder of the park’s origins.

6. Bachelor's Grove Cemetery

143rd St, Midlothian, IL 60445

Bachelor’s Grove is an abandoned cemetery, but that doesn’t stop ghost researchers and occult experts from wandering into the grounds for night hikes and tours. Some have declared it the most haunted graveyard in the country. If you’re hunting for paranormal activity, scary legends, floating orbs, phantom dogs—this Midlothian site won’t disappoint.

143rd St
Midlothian, IL 60445

7. Calvary Catholic Cemetery

301 Chicago Ave, Evanston, IL 60202

Evanston’s cemetery dates back to 1859 and sits right on the lakefront. There’s a large stone gate and Chicago’s first woman Mayor Jane Byrne and the founding owner of the Chicago White Sox Charles Comiskey are both buried here.

301 Chicago Ave
Evanston, IL 60202

8. Burr Oak Cemetery

4400 w 123rd st, Alsip, IL

Built in 1927, Burr Oak serves as the final resting place for many people who were legacies in the black community. For example, legends like singer Dinah Washington and heavyweight boxing champion Ezzard Charles aree buried here. It is also where Emmett Till is buried, whose murder became a rallying point for the civil-rights movement.

4400 w 123rd st
Alsip, IL

9. Forest Home Cemetery

863 Des Plaines Ave, Forest Park, IL 60130

Originally, this cemetery was a Potawatomi village and burial ground until German settlers claimed the land in 1835. Sometimes referred to as the Waldheim Cemetery, there are a few gateways and mausoleums that resemble the architecture of Masonic Temples built by Freemasons which ties into the cemetery’s origin. It’s also known for its memorial to the five Haymarket martyrs and was the only Chicago area cemetery to accept their remains.

863 Des Plaines Ave
Forest Park, IL 60130

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