Samuel Merritt, M.D., (1822-1890), one of the first mayors of Oakland—a physician, shipbuilder, philanthropist, early regent of the University of California, founder of Merritt Hospital (now part of Summit Medical Center) and a founding trustee of the Mountain View Cemetery Association.
“People like author Frank Norris, artist Thomas Hill, architects Julia Morgan and Bernard Maybeck, captains of industry such as powerful railroad builder and banker Charles Crocker…all made their contributions to the shaping of a nation’s frontier.” – Source
“As Americans moved westward, man had achieved dominion over the land, overcoming hardships and nature to continue the march to California. But as man triumphed over his environment, he also came to question his place in nature. Mountain View Cemetery is an outgrowth of this contemplation.” – Source
“Mountain View Cemetery is distinguished from other cemeteries by its architect’s vision of man and nature and their relationship to each other. Mountain View Cemetery serves as an example of the American search for a civilized life in harmony with the environment.” – Source
“The historic Cemetery master plan was designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted — the architect of New York City’s Central Park, Capitol Grounds in Washington D.C., Stanford University, and Yosemite Park (he minimized the intrusion of man on Yosemite’s natural wonders) — Mountain View Cemetery was intended to express a harmony between man and the natural setting.” – Source
There are over 177,000 souls buried here.
Buried in the exclusive and long-sold-out hillside tract known as Millionaire’s Row are some of the folks who built, made, acquired and stole to make the Bay Area the place it is today. The names carved into the granite vaults, family mausoleums and marble slabs — Crocker, Ghirardelli, Merritt, Kaiser, Maybeck, Bechtel — were the forces to be reckoned with before the shuffling-off-the-mortal-coil thing happened.
Mountain View, unlike other cemeteries, is open to the public for recreational use. Visitors may hike, picnic, sightsee, cycle, walk dogs and even roller-skate and skateboard, if the skating is done “respectfully.”
One of Mountain View Cemetery’s most remarkable monuments remembers Henry Daniel Cogswell, a dentist who made his money speculating on land after the Gold Rush. Cogswell was such a staunch believer in temperance that he donated drinking fountains to San Francisco and Oakland. In 1870, when Cogswell showed the cemetery fathers the design for his monument, they were so impressed that they gave him the grave plot for free. In return, he paid $1000 for perpetual care.
Cogswell’s monument is a column that rises 70 feet, topped with a crystal star that has turned amethyst in the strong California sun. At the base of the column stand the figures of Faith, Hope, Charity, and Temperance.
Its family tombs range from Egyptian Revival through Romanesque to Gothic. Among the curious elements of the cemetery are its three pyramid mausoleums more then any other cemetery in the U.S. The pyramid mausoleum craze started in the early 1800’s after Napoleon invaded Egypt.
Its 1929 art deco public mausoleum is a thing of beauty.
Stained glass window inside the main mausoleum.
Some of the famous buried here include Domingo Ghirardelii, Oakland mayor Samuel Crocket, railroad tycoon Charles Crocker, Hearst Castle architect Julia Morgan, as well as Elizabeth Short, aka the “Black Dahlia.”
She sure is beautiful.