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Green-Wood Cemetery gets $500,000 for new visitor center

GREENWOOD HEIGHTS — The borough’s most famous resting place for the dead is getting injected with some new life: $500,000 in funding toward a new education and welcome center for the hundreds of thousands of visitors Green-Wood Cemetery receives annually. 

The money will cover classroom and workshop space, programming and community areas for the $34 million, 20,000-square-foot project, which is expected to break ground in fall 2021. The grant comes from Brooklyn Borough President (and mayoral hopeful) Eric Adams. 

“Our capital grant recognizes that parks are the great equalizers in our city, and we need to do more to encourage the growth of green space throughout the five boroughs,” Adams said.

The numbers of annual visitors to the cemetery are the highest they have been in the last century, according to Lisa Alpert, director of development and marketing at Green-Wood. In 2018, the cemetery got about 330,000 visitors — up 50,000 from the year before. But in the mid-19th century, before Prospect Park and Central Park existed, about 500,000 people were visiting the cemetery each year, Alpert said.

Green-Wood hosts more than 200 public programs per year, including the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Brooklyn, which “bring[s] out the largest demographic of people from across the borough,” according to Harry Weil, director of public programs at Green-Wood. 

The landmarked cemetery is home to some of the city’s most famous Brooklyn residents, including Jean-Michel Basquiat, Henry Ward Beecher, DeWitt Clinton and Horace Greeley, as well as many victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

“Over the past two decades, Green-Wood has emerged as a growing and important center of culture, education, and history — attracting more than 330,000 visitors from near and far, last year alone,” said Green-Wood President Richard J. Moylan. “This generous grant from Borough President Adams is a strong affirmation of our role as one of the city’s most unique cultural institutions.”

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