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Grant's Tomb; Did you know?

by Rick Grgetic

Grant's tomb in New York
Why is Ulysses S. Grant's tomb in New York City? President Grant lived in New York for the last five years of his life, and requested to be buried in the city. Julia Grant said, "Riverside (park) was selected by myself and my family as the burial place of my husband, General Ulysses S. Grant. First, because I believed New York was his preference. Second, it is near the residence that I hope to occupy as long as I live, and where I will be able to visit his resting place often. Third, I have believed, and am now convinced, that the tomb will be visited by as many of his countrymen there as it would be at any other place. Fourth, the offer of a park in New York was the first which observed and unreservedly assented to the only condition imposed by General Grant himself, namely, that I should have a place by his side."

On July 23, 1885 President Ulysses S. Grant died of cancer

It is the largest masoleum in North America.

It was built without public funds, entirely by private donations

It was designed by architect John Hemenway Duncan. The tomb's granite exterior is modeled after the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus and resembles the Tropaeum Alpium. While within the tomb the twin sarcophagi of Grant and his wife Julia are based on that of Napoleon Bonaparte at Les Invalides.

What is a Mausoleum?
The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus or Tomb of Mausolus was a tomb built between 353 and 350 BC at Halicarnassus (present Bodrum, Turkey) for Mausolus, a satrap (governor) in the Persian Empire, and Artemisia II of Caria, his wife.

In 353 BC, Mausolus died, leaving Artemisia to rule alone. As a tribute to him, she decided to build him a tomb so famous that Mausolus's name is now the eponym for all stately tombs, in the word mausoleum. The construction was also so beautiful and unique it became one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

The monument was completed in time for the 75th anniversary ceremony of Grant's birth on April 27, 1897.

It is officially called the U.S. Grant National Memorial, and is now managed by the U.S. Park Service since 1958. But they had no program for its oversight. It fell into serious disrepair. In 1994, legislation was passed to restore the tomb. On April 27, 1997, the restoration effort sanctioned by Congress was completed and the tomb rededicated.

Meanwhile, the area immediately surrounding the tomb, including the overlook pavilion, are owned by the NYC Park District. Efforts are underway to transfer the plat to the National Park Service and to restore the entire area, with addition of a visitors center.

Who's buried in Grant's Tomb?
The riddle relating to Grant 's Tomb is "Who is buried in Ulysses S. Grant's Tomb?" In the United States, it is perhaps the best-known riddle in which the question provides the answer.

The riddle was popularized by Groucho Marx on his game show "You Bet Your Life". Groucho would usually accept the answer "Grant"; he would ask these types of questions-with-obvious-answers to contestants to ensure that they won something on his show.

The riddle can be used as a trick question in a number of ways:
First, The answer of "Grant" is so obvious that the person answering the riddle may assume that someone other than Grant was buried in the tomb (otherwise why would anyone ask the question?) and guess at some other historical figure, or simply answer "I don't know".

Secondly, If the responder answers "Ulysses Grant," he can be termed wrong, either for erroneously going along with the "buried" part of the question (Grant and his wife are actually entombed, not buried) or for forgetting or not knowing that Julia Grant is there also.

Grant's Tomb, Riverside Park

Sarcophagi of Ulysses & Julia Grant

Grant's Tomb, Riverside Park

Sarcophagi of Ulysses & Julia Grant