The main reason I now pay close attention to closing times is because of an adventure my brother and I had at Woodlawn Cemetery in the North Bronx, NYC. This was maybe in the summer of 2002, as far as I can recall, and my first time being locked in. I had convinced him to take the train with me from Philadelphia to the Bronx to go shooting in this grand old Victorian cemetery called Woodlawn. It’s all the way at the north end of a subway/elevated line at the Woodlawn stop, a pretty rough neighborhood. Worth the effort, though, as it is certainly one of the most elaborate and picturesque cemeteries in the country. Back then, it was my own precious discovery.
This being my first time at Woodlawn, I mistook the cemetery’s rear gate on Jerome Avenue for the main gate, (which is actually on Webster Avenue and East 233rd Street, clear on the opposite side of this huge 400-acre cemetery). The Jerome Avenue gate and wrought iron fencing were about 10 feet high. My brother made special note of that, and commented on the 4:30 closing time (he's such a worrywart).
|Detail of Belmont Mausoleum|
After we exhausted our film on the gargoyles and flying buttresses (I don’t really know what those are but I always wanted to say it), we realized it was 4:45! Aahhhh! To the gate!...... What?! CLOSED!!!
After some howls and imprecations on my brother’s part (directed mainly toward me), I took the predicament into consideration and figured it was possible to climb up the gate and down the other side. With my camera bag on my shoulder, I scaled up the inside of the gate, thankful for the built-in footholds of ornamental wrought iron, over the top and down the front. Getting Tim over the gate was quite another story−my poor brother had such a horrendous time! He cursed me coast to coast during both his ascent and descent. At one point, he was sitting on top of the closed gate with me outside trying to convince him that a safe dismount was indeed possible. I was conscious of cars on the highway slowing down to look at us, with the drivers probably thinking, “Why are they trying to get out? In this neighborhood, it’s certainly safer inside that cemetery!” But we got him out, with me jamming his feet into footholds he couldn’t see. Took about a half hour in the hot setting summer sun. To cool him down (in more ways than one) I bought him a few beers at the biker bar under the el stop across the street. Then we took the long series of train rides home.
PHOTOGRAPHING AT WOODLAWN CEMETERY
During my third visit to Woodlawn a year or so later, my friend Krista and I actually found the front entrance with the offices and gatehouse, on Webster Avenue and East 233rd Street. We signed in as official visitors (so unlike me), and were told that if we wanted to take photographs, we had to apply for a permit, and pay some nominal fee (it might have been $5 or $10), which we did. Curiously, they also told us we were not allowed to photograph any of the bronze sculptures! These rules may have changed in the past ten years, but the “Photography Permit Application” (which you’re supposed to submit in advance of your visit) is still on Woodlawn’s website.
Woodlawn Photography Permit Application
Woodlawn Cemetery Website
Woodlawn Cemetery Image Gallery