Grant's Tomb: An Overview
Building Design Characteristics

Dedicated in 1897, Grant's Tomb is the second largest mausoleum in the Western Hemisphere (the Garfield Memorial is the first).

Rendered in an eclectic neoclassical style, the monument is adorned by Doric columns on the lower level and a cupola above. It rises 150 feet above the ground and over 280 feet above the banks of the Hudson River.

Early View of Grant's Tomb from the Hudson River

The architect of the monument, John H. Duncan, envisioned "a Monumental Tomb, no matter from what point of view it may be seen."

The structure symbolically faces south.

From Riverside Drive

South Elevation East Elevation North Elevation

Design Influences

Influences on the final design included

The Mausoleum
at Halicarnassus
Hadrian's Tomb
in Rome
Napoleon's Tomb
in Dome des Invalides (France)
and the Garfield Memorial
in Cleveland, Ohio.

Relief Design

On the facade of the Tomb is the epitaph, "LET US HAVE PEACE," a quote taken from Grant's acceptance of the Republican nomination for president that would characterize the ultimate aims of his public career. Allegorical figures probably representing Victory and Peace (sculpted by J. Massey Rhind) are depicted on either side of the sign, marking Grant's importance both in war and in peace.

On the four pendentives in the interior of the Tomb are relief sculptures, also by Rhind, with allegorical representations of Grant's

Birth - note the tree of life and figures holding symbols of education and the home.

Military Life - both figures hold emblems used in war.

Civilian Life - accompanying the figures are symbols of victory, prosperity, and Grant's authority as president.

Death - symbols of death, (possibly) strength, and eternity are held by the figures.


The interior is largely made of Carrara and Lee marble from Italy.

Inside a circular crypt, on ground level, are sarcophagi containing the remains of President and Mrs. Grant. The sarcophagi are made of red granite from Montello, Wisconsin, and each weighs 8½ tons.

The Circular Crypt



The Crypt

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Artwork and Furnishings

In 1966, mosaic murals by Allyn Cox were added to three lunettes inside Grant's Tomb. The murals portray scenes from three of Grant's greatest campaigns.

Grant (on horseback) during the Vicksburg Campaign (November 1862 - July 1863).
Grant on Missionary Ridge, to the right of General George H. Thomas (November 25, 1863).
General Robert E. Lee surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Court House (April 9, 1865).

The Tomb also contains two reliquary rooms with murals by Dean Fausett that feature classical themes as well as maps depicting the theater of the Civil War. 

Locations of battles are indicated by crossed sabers. Grant's battles are indicated with a star.In the center of the reliquary room are bronze trophy cases containing replicas of Civil War battle flags.

Chinese Memorial

Behind the Tomb is a Chinese memorial on the site of Grant's temporary tomb.  Enclosed by a black fence, this site contains a Chinese-English plaque and a ginko tree planted on behalf of Li Hung Chang, the Chinese viceroy who had met and developed a friendship with Grant during the latter's trip around the world.
The Overlook Pavilion

Across the street from Grant's Tomb is the overlook pavilion. This structure once afforded visitors a view of the Hudson River but has since fallen into disrepair.


On April 27, 2011, the long awaited reopening of the newly restored overlook pavilion across the street from Grant’s Tomb finally took place as part of the day’s Grant birthday commemoration. Adorned with red, white, and blue bunting and ribbon, the spruced up neoclassical structure was in brilliant form - a stark contrast to the state of disrepair that had character-ized the site over the preceding four decades.  more...