Best Cemetery - 2011
Founded in 1853 and tucked away between Rice Street and 35E, St. Paul's historic Oakland Cemetery has served for over a century and a half as one of the primary nondenominational cemeteries in the city. Take a leisurely drive through the cemetery and you'll see a who's who of St. Paul's earliest politicians and businessmen, movers and shakers: Alexander Ramsey, Henry H. Sibley, Amherst H. Wilder, Harriet E. Bishop, Horace Austin, and Henry Mower Rice. The cemetery's park-like atmosphere was designed in the 1870s by Chicago landscape architect Horace Cleveland, who also designed the St. Anthony Park area, Como and Phalen parks, and most of the Minneapolis park system. More than 50,000 people representing the diversity of St. Paul's life and history are buried here, and there are key features like the Saint Paul Firefighters memorial, sites dedicated to Civil War and Spanish-American War veterans, and areas dedicated to Chinese workers, Romanians, Russians, Germans, and donated plots for the poor of Ramsey County. Oakland risked falling into ruin in past years as burial numbers plummeted, but it was saved by a new group of people—Hmong immigrants, whose shiny new grave markers, many covered with soda cans and bags of food to feed the spirits of the departed, are now interspersed with the ancient marble markers of 19th-century citizens, their names and birth dates worn off with time.