Title: Book Review: Green-Wood Cemetery
Author: Staff Writer
Publisher: TPC Matters
Date: February 2009
We all come to an end and Green-Wood Cemetery, on 25th Street in Brooklyn, seems to me a fine resting place for our mortal remains.
A new book of local interest by Alexandra Mosca, published by Arcadia, presents the history of Green-Wood with photos and postcards.
An edited Barnes & Noble synopsis follows:
For generations, Green-Wood Cemetery has played an integral part in New York City's cultural history, serving as a gathering place and a cultural repository.
Situated in the borough of Brooklyn, the thousands of graves and mausoleums within the cemetery's 478 acres are tangible links and reminders to key events and people who made New York City and America what it is today.
The monuments read like a who's who of American greatness and include the names of Leonard Bernstein, F. A. O. Schwarz, Charles L. Tiffany, Samuel Morse, among others.
A national historic landmark since 2006, Green-Wood is considered one of the preeminent cemeteries in the country. A century ago it was a social venue for picnics, outings, and political events, and today remains one of the city's largest open green spaces.
Through vintage photographs and postcards, Ms. Mosca has chronicled the cemetery's rich history and documents how its tradition as a park and a popular tourist attraction continues, drawing 300,000 visitors annually.
Title: Queens Writer Celebrates Cemetery Culture
Author: Lisa Fogarty
Publisher: Queens Tribune
Most of the protagonists in Alexandra Kathryn Mosca's latest book are wealthy. Some are artistic geniuses who founded newspapers and conducted legendary scores. And, of course, there is a healthy sprinkling of suicidal poets, murderers and mobsters in the mix.
Despite their idiosyncrasies, the characters in "Green-Wood Cemetery" share one thing in common: they have all been buried in what is considered the grandest final resting place in all of New York City.
The roster at Green-Wood Cemetery, a 478-acre burial ground and national landmark located in Brooklyn, reads like a Who's Who of New York's most influential personalities. In this photographic tribute, Mosca, a lifelong Queens resident and local funeral director, captures the historical stories and anecdotes of past residents including F.A.O. Schwartz, Leonard Bernstein, New York Times founder Henry Jarvis Raymond and Charles L. Tiffany, the patriarch behind Tiffany & Co.
"Researching the book was the best part. I knew there were a lot of famous people buried there but I had no idea how many," Mosca said.
In addition to illuminating the lives and deaths of many famous Americans, the book explores Green-Wood Cemetery's effort to identify and properly memorialize Civil War veterans who previously lay in unidentified graves. It also features a section devoted to the cemetery's architecture and landscape.
As part of her research, Mosca relied heavily on the Green-Wood Cemetery Archives, Library of Congress and Brooklyn Historical Society. She spent several hours exploring the cemetery by foot, searching for monuments to photograph or interesting inscriptions to include within her text.
"It was incredible. Readers would expect to see a lot of famous people in the book, and they're there, but I also decided to include some common people as well - people with fascinating stories," she said.
Growing up, Mosca always wanted to be a writer. In college she majored in English and took on a side job at a funeral home in Bayside. Rather than simply augment her income, her part-time job proved formative. Where some find tragedy, Mosca found meaning in funeral work.
"When you deal with death on a daily basis, it's very profound," she said. "People are coming to you at the worst time in their lives and you do what you can to help lessen their pain. You realize how fortunate you are and how every day is very precious."
In her 20s, Mosca's convivial outlook on life helped open the doors to many unique opportunities. She became a funeral director at a time when, for a young woman, the career choice was still an unorthodox one. At the same time, she carved a niche in the writing world as a contributor to trade publications "American Cemetery" and "American Funeral Director" magazines. She even posed for Playboy, selected for both her natural beauty and anomalous professional accomplishments.
"My feeling was 'Who knows what's going to happen in life?' I was a portrait model so I jumped at the opportunity to pose for Playboy," she said. "It seemed like at the end of life people regret the things they didn't do. I didn't want to have regrets."
Mosca is currently working on a murder-mystery novel about a female funeral director involved in the solving of a crime. She began writing the book even before she got the idea to pitch "Green-Wood Cemetery" to Arcadia Publishing. Coincidentally, many of the scenes in her book actually take place at Green-Wood.
"Cemeteries are like outdoor history museums," she said. "People should take advantage of them because you can really rediscover the history of this great city."
"Green-Wood Cemetery" can be purchased on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and at Green-Wood Cemetery. To learn more about Mosca, visit www.alexandramosca.com.
Title: New book traces Green-Wood's ghostly past
Author: Lauren Johnston
Publisher: amNew York
Date: October 29, 2009
When it comes to ghostly haunts, Green-Wood Cemetery has an esteemed list of resident spirits. The gravesites of notable New Yorkers cover its 478 acres, including the likes of Peter Cooper, Charles Pfizer, "Boss" Tweed and artist Jean Michel Basquiat.
We talked to author Alexandra Kathryn Mosca, who is also a funeral director, about her new pictorial book, "Green-Wood Cemetery," to learn more about its haunted history.
Q: What was your most surprising discovery while researching?
A: One of the people I found was Dr. August Renouard. When I was coming up as a funeral director, the old-timers would talk about him. He was considered the father of modern day embalming. To a funeral director, that was significant.
Q: Which gravesite is the spookiest?
A: There is a really strange gravestone. It belonged to [former mayor of Brooklyn] Charles Schieren. The mayor and his wife died a few days apart, they both had pneumonia. The monument is the angel of death. I think it's one of the eeriest.
Q: You've written about many cemeteries, what makes Green-Wood special?
A: It's almost a history - certainly of New York, but also of America as well. The people [buried there] are nationally known, names like Steinway, FAO Schwarz. Everybody knows these names.
Q: What new things will New Yorkers learn about Green-Wood from your book?
A: These names like [Horace] Greeley, Peter Cooper, we learn these as children and over the years, the accomplishments of these people become vague. I think this reacquaints them with the history of New York.
Q: How much time did you spend exploring the cemetery while writing?
A: I went there several days a week and walked the grounds and it was so amazing, even in the winter. You would just turn a corner and discover something.
Mosca will lead a cemetery trolley tour based on her book on Nov. 23 at 1 p.m., followed by an author Q & A, $20 for the tour, $30 for the tour and a copy of the book. "Green-Wood Cemetery," Arcadia Publishing, $19.99.
Title: Touring Green-Wood With an Expert
Author: Phoebe Neidl
Publisher: Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Even before Green-Wood was established as a cemetery in Brooklyn in 1838, it was a place of historic importance. As was commemorated in a ceremony this past weekend, it was the site of a skirmish in the Battle of Brooklyn, the first major battle of the American Revolution.
Since the fight for our nation's founding, many more stories have unfolded on these hallowed grounds, now home to a half-million souls buried among the 478 acres of manicured grounds, glacier ponds and elegant statues. Many historians and writers have found inspiration in the lives of those buried at Green-Wood -- a population that includes many of the notable and notorious in New York City's history.
Alexandra Mosca is one of the most recent researchers bewitched by Green-Wood's wealth of history. She compiled and wrote a book about Green-Wood for Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series. The book was released in 2008 and this September 12, Mosca will lead a special trolley tour of the cemetery featuring sites pictured in the book.
"The history there is just phenomenal. Green-Wood is like an outdoor museum and historical repository," says Mosca, who discovered Green-Wood through her day job as a funeral director.
Mosca was studying journalism in college when she took a fateful job as a receptionist at a funeral parlor. The rest is history, as they say. During her 25 years as a funeral director in Elmhurst, Queens, Mosca has pursued her journalistic ambitions by writing about her profession and profiling cemeteries for trade magazines.
"I still get to write, and I have something to write about," she says, acknowledging, "I far prefer visiting cemeteries for research than in my job as a funeral director."
It took nine months of research through Green-Wood's archives, the Library of Congress, the Brooklyn Historical Society and the Brooklyn Eagle archives to complete the book.
"Having been [to Green-Wood] many times over the years, I was familiar with many of the famous names, but when I began the book project, my research continually surprised me," she says. "I found more and more fascinating stories. It became a question of winnowing down the subjects… I can see a Green-Wood II, III and IV and I'm not sure if that would be enough to encompass all the stories it has to tell. New stories are being revealed all the time."
"Boss" Tweed, Leonard Bernstein, Horace Greeley, and Henry Ward Beecher are among the famous names gracing Green-Wood's gravestones, but Mosca's tour will include interesting lesser-knowns, such as Charles Feltman, who is credited with inventing the hot dog; Dr. Auguste Renouard, the "father of embalming;" and John Matthews, the creator of carbonated drinks (Matthews designed his own monument which won the mortuary monument of the year award in 1870.) The tour ends with a visit to the magnificently detailed statue of DeWitt Clinton, Green-Wood's first tourist attraction.
The Images of America book on Green-Wood Cemetery is available through Green-Wood and at local Barnes & Noble stores. The hour-long September 12th tour will begin at 1 p.m. and will be followed by a Q&A session. Visit alexandramosca.com and green-wood.com for more info.
Title: Author peeks into past with book about cemetery
Author: Andrea Boyarsky
Publisher: Staten Island Advance
There are many ways to learn about history. You could read a textbook, visit a museum or chat with an old-timer. Or, perhaps, you could visit a cemetery.
The latter would be Alexandra Kathryn Mosca's suggestion. In her new book, "Green-Wood Cemetery," part of Arcadia Publishing's Images of America series, the writer and funeral director delves into the history and famous names buried in the Brooklyn cemetery.
The cemetery also is the resting place of many Staten Islanders and their family members, some of whom made the move over the bridge from Brooklyn.
"What I hope is that it reacquaints people with the history of the city and with America," said Ms. Mosca, a Sea Cliff, L.I., resident who directs a funeral home in Queens. "The people [buried there] are so compelling and interesting, they have given so much to society."
The famous names buried within the 478-acre cemetery established in 1838 include former Gov. DeWitt Clinton; William Magear "Boss" Tweed, a corrupt New York state senator who died in jail; George Tilyou, founder of Coney Island's Steeplechase Park, and Maj. Gen. Henry Slocum, a Civil War veteran who represented New York in the House of Representatives.
There also are titans of industries buried within: William Colgate, who started what is now Colgate-Palmolive; Juan Trippe, founder of Pan American World Airways; Frederick August Otto Schwarz, founder of toy store FAO Schwarz; German chemist Charles Pfizer, who started the pharmaceutical company, and Henry Steinway, the piano maker.
"I love history and I think many people do and it's a fun way to learn about it," Ms. Mosca said of the cemetery.
The book, which features numerous historical photos, was published in September and took Ms. Mosca about nine months to complete. During that time, she made countless visits to Green-Wood and did much research. "Once I got through reading about it, the subject matter was so compelling, I just kept reading," she said.
This is Ms. Mosca's second book. Her first, "Grave Undertakings" (New Horizon Press), chronicles her career as a woman in the funeral industry. She is currently working on her next untitled book, a fiction piece about a reluctant funeral director who finds herself involved in a murder mystery. There's scene set at Green-Wood and the murder victim is from Staten Island.
She also contributes to American Cemetery and American Funeral Director magazines and has written articles on funerals of the famous, including Margaret Mitchell, Eva Peron, Marilyn Monroe and John Gotti.
Alexandra Mosca will sign copies of the book at the Barnes and Nobles in Park Slope, Brooklyn, 267 Seventh Ave., on Thursday at 7 p.m.