Visiting a cemetery may seem like a strange way to spend a day, but visiting Cleveland's Lake View Cemetery is a fascinating way to learn more about the city's history.
We visited Lake View to see the burial place of President James A. Garfield, a huge monument celebrating his life and accomplishments. We found so much more to enjoy and appreciate at the 265-acre cemetery, which draws 400,000 visitors each year and bills itself as "an outdoor museum".
Lake View is home to political figures like Carl Stokes, the first African American mayor of a major American city when he became Cleveland's mayor in 1967, industrial giants like John D. Rockefeller and other important figures in Cleveland's commercial, civic and cultural history.
Here are few more interesting grave sites at Lake View:
Collinwood School Fire Memorial (1908)-Two teachers and 172 children died in a fire at Lakeview Elementary School on March 4, 1908. The tragedy sparked calls for stricter school safety codes nationwide, and thousands attended the mass burial of nearly 50 victims near this memorial.
Frances Payne Bolton (1885-1977)-First woman elected to Congress from Ohio. She succeeded her husband as a Republican representative after his 1939 death and served 29 years in Congress. Bolton was a strong advocate of advanced nursing education, endowing what became the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University.
Coburn Haskell (1868-1922)-Invented the modern golf ball with Bertram G. Work in 1899. The wound-rubber ball with a solid rubber core hard exterior shell was easier to control than earlier balls and increased popularity of golf in the United States.
Garrett Morgan (1877-1963)-Invented the gas mask and obtained the first patent for a traffic signal in the United States. Morgan helped establish The Call, a weekly African American newspaper, in 1920.
Eliot Ness (1903-1957)-Cleveland's Public Safety Director, 1935-1942. Ness led the "Untouchables", government agents battling Al Capone's organization in Prohibition-era Chicago. As Cleveland's safety director, he cleaned up corruption and modernized the city's police and fire departments. Lake View allowed relatives to spread Ness' ashes over the cemetery's Wade Lake in 1997, forty years after his death.
My best advice for making the most of your Lake View visit is to pick up a map at the office or online, or purchase a Lake View Historical Trail booklet for a few dollars from the office or the small gift shop in the Garfield Monument.
Lake View Cemetery is open year round from 7:30 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. daily. The Garfield Memorial is open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. April 1 through November 19. The cemetery office is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.