Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery & The Woman in Black

I’ve been in a cemetery mood. I just adore them. The weathered tombstones with dates that sometimes need deciphering, mausoleums more beautiful than any home I’d ever live in, the departed’s legacies withstanding years, decades, and centuries of erosion.


Sleepy Hollow Cemetery is 14 miles north of NYC’s line on the east side of the Hudson River.  Past it’s gates lies the humble grave of Washington Irving. The man who introduced the headless horseman and Ichabod Crane to us as children. It’s adjacent to The Old Dutch Burying Ground and in 1849 incorporated as Tarrytown Cemetery.

Washington Irving parents were Scottish-English immigrants who lived at 131 William Street in Manhattan when he was born on April 3, 1783. They lived among the merchant class community and eventually moved to 128 William Street. He was a writer, historian, essayist, diplomat and biographer.


At the age of 76 Irving died of a heart attack on the night of November 28, 1859 at his Sunnyside estate in Tarrytown, New York.

It’s hard to believe there could be restless souls in a cemetery with views I wish I had from my apartment. My first encounter with this place was a fine late October day in 2010. The colors were ripe and vibrant, leaves partially fallen, breeze crisp.




There are a few parks nearby. You can walk from the Philipse Manor train station to the cemetery and connect to the Rockefeller State Park Preserve by way of The Old Croton Aquaduct Trail. It’s a nice jaunt out of the city done by public transportation with lots of walking. Most of our traveling is done without a car.






Some people think we’re going to bring ghosts home with us by photographing cemeteries.






Stain glass inside Hemsley’s mausoleum.

We haven’t had any disturbances.




There’s something about Sleepy Hollow this time of year that is enchanting. They capture it perfectly every Halloween with their festivities. The Horseman’s Hollow was the most artistic and thoughtful take for a witching experience.



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15 thoughts on “Washington Irving’s Sleepy Hollow Cemetery & The Woman in Black

    1. Thank you! We are going to Savannah, GA in 2 weeks. Been dying to go for years to see their cemeteries. Booking that trip got me in a cemetery mood. Looking into ghost tours gives it a fun creepy edge. I’m tempted to tease my friends that I’m bringing back the ghost of a widow from the civil war.

  1. Cemeteries are truly a glimpse into the culture of the town at the time (they can tell you so much without saying a word). To look back at 1600-1700’s headstones and how not only how ornate each piece was (for those that could afford them and not just a marker in the ground) but how religion affected the dead and the community surrounding the area.

  2. I do the same thing. Went to Hawaii — visited a beach. Spent more time at the Chinese cemetery on Oahu.It was so fascinating! Thanks for the lovely pics and info.

    1. It’s one of my favorites especially in Fall. Greenwood in Brooklyn and Sleepy Hollow outside the city are my favorites. Woodlawn in the Bronx is really nice too but they maintain it so good the old graves look brand new. Woodlawn doesn’t have that aged look.

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