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The Chicago Traveler

Bohemian National Cemetery

by Matt B on January 13th, 2008

bohemian national cemetery water towerCall me morbid, but I find cemeteries absolutely fascinating. They're like outdoor history museums, a direct look into the past and its people. And inside the Bohemian National Cemetery on Chicago's north side lies the home of Helen Sclair, a.k.a. 'the cemetery lady,' who's even more intrigued by cemeteries than I am. After all, she lives in one!

This cemetery historian does keep a certain sense of humor about her situation though, keeping her home decorated as if for Halloween' all year round. Sclair now holds seminars and writes columns educating people about the importance of cemeteries. Her goal is to help people realize that burial grounds are valuable places, rich with art and history.

Founded in 1877, the 125-acre (505857-sq-m) graveyard has more than 117,000 people buried there and was recently named a landmark. The structures within, including the entrance arch, chapel, and Columbarium, are beautiful pieces of architectural work. However, it's the funerary art that gets most of the attention here, and rightfully so. There are marble statues scattered throughout the grounds, many honoring the soldiers of World War I and the Spanish-American War. The mausoleum of former Chicago Mayor Anton Cermak (who was killed in the line of fire during an assassination attempt on President-elect Franklin D. Roosevelt) is also located here, as well as the mausoleum of the Kolar family, landlords to the infamous Mrs. O'Leary.

While perhaps a bit unorthodox, this 'attraction' has plenty to offer visually and is definitely one of the most peaceful places to spend your day.

Photo credit: (c/o Flickr) hyperbolation

Bohemian National Cemetery: 5255 N Pulaski Rd; 773-539-8442
Daily: 7:30 a.m. ' 4:00 p.m.
Public trans: Bus # 53, 92

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POSTED IN: Architecture & Attractions

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