Founded in 1849 by Sleepy Hollow “Village Worthies” who included Washington Irving, the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is probably best known for its fictional dead people. Irving, after all, set much of his beloved “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in the cemetery, and many Headless Horsemen (not to mention, spiders, skeletons, and a whole lot of pumpkins) have been spooking kids and galloping across its replica bridge pretty much ever since.
But the cemetery is also the final resting place of lots of real—and really famous—people. Here’s a rundown:
• Rockefellers (of course)—lots of ’em. William (John D., Sr.’s brother) is in the main cemetery inside a marble mausoleum with in-set columns, right near one-time rival (and later, deputy) John Archbold. But many members of the family—including John D., Jr., and his son, New York Governor and Vice President Nelson—are buried in a private, three-acre parcel behind a high fence at the north end of the cemetery, adjoining the Rockefeller Park Preserve. John D., Sr., though, is buried in Lake View Cemetery in his hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, as is President James A. Garfield.
• Astors: Philanthropist Brooke Astor died in 2007 at the age of 105, nearly a half-century after her husband, Vincent, who is buried next to her. The inscription on Mrs. Astor’s tomb, which reads, “I was glad when they said unto me we will go into the house of the Lord,” comes from the King James version of Psalm 122.
• Walter Chrysler, founder of the eponymous car company, lies within another of the giant mausoleums in the north side of the cemetery.
• Gilded-Age Warriors: Steel titan and native Scot Andrew Carnegie is buried beneath a (comparatively) unassuming Celtic cross in a dense part of the cemetery, with labor leader Samuel Gompers, first and longest-serving president of the AFL and general thorn in the side of most Gilded-Age plutocrats, under a scroll a few yards away.
• Leo Baekeland: The Belgian plastics pioneer (he invented the now highly collectible Bakelite) and longtime Yonkers resident was buried with his wife, Céline.
• Florence Nightingale… Graham? Better known by her nom de commerce, Elizabeth Arden, the makeup tycoon is buried in the newest part of the cemetery. Sources say one woman came from Croatia in January and walked through eight inches of snow to see Arden’s grave.
• The Ramones—temporarily. Sort of. According the Sleepy Hollow tourism website, punk “brothers” Joey, Dee Dee, Johnny, and Marky shot a music video in an open grave at the cemetery in 1989.
• Francis Pharcellus Church: Yes, Virginia, the New York Sun reporter and Santa Claus apologist is buried here as well.
• Leona Helmsley: The hotel boss and felonious Queen of Mean visited five cemeteries before picking a spot overlooking a small river for her mausoleum with her husband, Harry. Carrying her dog, Trouble, she paid $2.3 million for the tract, which is set on three-quarters of an acre.
• Washington Irving: Irving’s grave, the most-visited in the cemetery, is a rounded marble affair amid brown stones and is decorated with a flag from the American Legion. (Irving was a diplomat and militia commander.) The edifice is the third marker that’s been placed at Plot 165: fans of the author, historian, lawyer, politician, and Irvington name source chipped so many souvenirs off of the first two that they were destroyed.