Grieve-Land, Ohio: Lake View Cemetery

October 17, 2018 — I’ve been to Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio, twice in my life. The first time was during the inaugural year of OTIS, in 2007 (although I wouldn't write about it for another year). I went for only one reason: The tomb of President Garfield. And that’s all I saw there.

And I missed out on a lot.

I was still learning how to odd.

This latest time in Lake View, during my family’s cross-country road trip earlier this year, I again saw the tomb of President Garfield. But this time I took my time. Explored the whole radiantly rotten place. Saw funerary wonders of sculpture and nature that firmly place this cemetery among my favorites in the country.

The cemetery was established in 1869 and features more than 100,000 graves holding up about 285 acres of beautifully flora’d landscape. Besides Garfield, its famous tree food includes Eliot Ness, John D. Rockefeller, and Harvey Pekar. It boasts a Tiffany-designed chapel. It’s most famous statue is Angel of Death Victorious, which deadweights the graves of the Haserot clan. Nick Fury was fake-buried here for Captain America: Winter Soldier and visited by the titular Avenger.

It’s the type of cemetery I want to return to every season, just to see how it changes. What it’s like canopied under red and yellow boughs in autumn. How it looks double-buried under snow in winter. How the heat waves play across its gray stones in summer. How alive it feels during dewy, bird-songy spring. It’s the type of cemetery where you know you’ll discover new things every visit.

And there’s a goddamn damn in the middle of the place.

If you only have time to see one thing in Lake View Cemetery, certainly, see Garfield’s tomb. It’s spectacular and the only place in the country where a president is basically lying in perpetual state. But be warned. This is what you’d miss…and, like me, it might take you eleven years to correct that oversight. Also, just cancel whatever it is you’re supposed to get to afterward and stick around. If the dead teach us anything, it’s not to hurry.