Buried: New York, New York
Died: July 23, 1885
See him: Ulysses S. Grant lived about a year after doctors diagnosed him with cancer, and for the last few months of that year the world made a point of saying goodbye. Among many other things, this included a whole range of offers for his tomb, which Grant’s wife, Julia, and son, Frederick, considered as the general hurried to finish his memoirs. They chose New York’s Riverside Park, partly because the Grants had settled in New York after the long world tour that followed two terms in the White House, and they’d come to love the city. Additionally, the temporary tomb could go up quickly – a crucial point, given that Grant was on the clock, so to speak – and the offer included space for Mrs. Grant, which was the general’s only directive regarding burial. Over a million people took in the spectacle of Grant’s funeral, with at least 60,000 reportedly on hand as an all-star cast of honorary pallbearers (including William Tecumseh Sherman) laid Grant in Grant’s Tomb, thus answering the riddle for the ages.
There’s the backstory. To see the tomb today, head to Riverside Park near 125th street. The tomb is very large on the outside and ornate on the inside, with murals of Grant’s career on the high ceilings and bronze busts of Union generals on the lower level. There’s also a small exhibit in the visitors center, which is across the street. Note that the tomb’s hours are kind of funky – when we visited in August 2013, they included “2-3 pm and 4-5 pm,” meaning there was an hour off in between. The ranger said this began before sequestration but was exacerbated by it. So call ahead, is what I’m saying.
See also: The Ulysses S Grant Memorial on the National Mall, just west of the US Capitol grounds. Strong stuff – few other presidential memorials portray soldiers and horses in violent death throes. War statues are hell too.