Oh, what a card. After visiting Firecracker in Harlem (cough, Hamilton Heights, sorry) for a year, I remembered that the tomb of Ulysses S. Grant is not far away. After our earlier trip to MoGridder’s Barbecue, we drove crosstown and down lovely Riverside Drive to see what we could see. Despite being the largest tomb on American soil, you can miss it as you drive alongside; shrouded by trees and set back from the road, it overlooks the Hudson from its shady perch.
Surrounded by garish and out of place murals, it looks like urban renewal attacked its spartan grandeur in a fit of pique. The site fell into disrepair by the squalid 70’s and was restored in the 90’s, so I imagine the mural is from that era. The front of the building is a popular spot for wedding photos, and that section of the park is well manicured.
The building rises up on huge columns to a rotunda which proclaims, “Let Us Have Peace.” Within, two marble coffins entomb President Grant and his wife Julia in the center of the edifice. If you walk downstairs, the tomb is circled with busts of Civil War generals. As in all tombs, there is a sense of quiet solemnity in the soft echoes your footsteps make on the smooth granite and marble, and how the immense maroon caskets draw your eyes to the center of the room where they rest.
Mr. & Mrs. Grant were beloved by the country; he was entombed in New York to be close to his widow. The funeral was attended by former Civil War generals, President Grover Cleveland, the entire Supreme Court, and most of Congress. The procession was seven miles long.
Nowadays Grant is probably best remembered as Mr. $50 bill, and his Presidency and generalship are commemorated by this beanie baby.