05 May 2020

Graceland Cemetery

One day after I mention it in class, the Chicago Tribune exhorts readers to visit Graceland Cemetery. After reminding us that the entire cemetery is an arboreal wonderland sprinkled with amazing architecture, including several Louis Sullivan monuments, the columnist drops an exclamation mark on it with a closing sales pitch for the Burnham burial site.
As powerful as the Sullivan-designed monuments are, my favorite place at Graceland is not a work of architecture, but a piece of environmental design — the island in the lake where the architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham and his family are buried. You reach the island by crossing a narrow wood footbridge. It leads to an irregularly-shaped boulder that marks the resting place of Burnham and his wife Margaret.
A canopy of trees offers a sense of shelter, while the water surrounding the island adds a dose of serenity. The lakefront that Burnham championed as a great public space is closed to the public, but here, at least, the visitor can honor the visionary who did so much to create it.

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