The history of San Francisco's cemeteries is one of relocation. After 1900, the expanding city evicted most of the cemeteries, citing health issues. The cemeteries remaining in San Francisco are San Francisco National Cemetery (Presidio) and Mission Dolores Cemetery.
Many of San Francisco's graves were re-interred at Colma, south of the city. There are also famous tombs at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland. The list below shows cemeteries where visitors can pay respects to some of San Francisco's famous.
See the Find a Grave Website for detailed descriptions of famous graves throughout the Bay Area and California.
01 of 08
San Francisco National Cemetery
Famous graves at San Francisco National Cemetery include:
- African American Buffalo Soldiers
- Maj. Gen. Frederick Funston
- Pauline Cushman-Fryer (Union spy)
- Sarah Bowman (cared for troops in Mexican War)
The National Park Service schedules regular (free) tours of this historic cemetery. Check the monthly schedule for upcoming tours.
The National Cemetery slopes upward on a hill, with views to the Golden Gate Bridge. Not far from here is the Presidio's equally famous pet cemetery. The pet resting place is shaded by trees, lush with greenery -- and filled with poignant memorials to beloved companion animals.
02 of 08
Mission Dolores Cemetery
The Mission Dolores Cemetery holds the graves of 5,000 Ohlone and Miwok, along with others who built Mission Dolores. Markers date from 1830 to the late 1800s.
The cemetery is a quiet, walled garden adjacent to the historic mission. It's a memorial place steeped in its own history, feeling more like a European church enclave than one in the middle of San Francisco.
03 of 08
Mountain View Cemetery (Oakland)
Famous graves at Mountain View include:
- Charles Crocker: Founder of Southern Pacific Railroad and Crocker Bank
- Julia Morgan: Architect (Berkeley Greek Theatre, Hearst Castle)
- Bernard Maybeck: Architect (Palace of Fine Arts - San Francisco)
- James Folger: Founder of Folgers Coffee
- Domenico Ghirardelli: Founder of Ghirardelli Chocolate
- Henry Haight: Governor of California
Mountain View Cemetery climbs a steep hill from Piedmont Avenue, to panoramic views of San Francisco Bay and Oakland. The Crocker and Ghirardelli mausoleums reside on Millionaires Row (pictured here) -- near the top, with sweeping vistas.
Docent-led tours happen at 10 am on the second Saturday of each month.
04 of 08
Cypress Lawn Memorial Park (Colma)
Famous graves at Cypress Lawn Memorial Park include:
- Charles de Young: Founder of the San Francisco Chronicle
- Andrew Hallidie: Inventor of San Francisco's cable cars
- William Randolph Hearst: Media magnate, Hearst Castle
- John McLaren: Golden Gate Park landscaper and early San Francisco Parks Superintendent
- Lefty O'Doul: Major League Baseball player
- Claus Spreckels: Founder of Spreckels Sugar Company
Cypress Lawn is huge, spanning multiple sections across El Camino Real. The section on the east side, past the ponds and through the castle-like portal is the most dramatic in terms of monuments and setting.Continue to 5 of 8 below.
05 of 08
Holy Cross Catholic Cemeteries (Colma)
Famous graves at Holy Cross Catholic Cemeteries include:
- Joe DiMaggio: Baseball player, married to Marilyn Monroe
- Vince Guaraldi: Jazz pianist and creator of Peanuts theme
- George Moscone: Mayor of San Francisco, assassinated along with Harvey Milk in 1978
- Edmund G. Brown: California Governor and father of Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown
The reception in the main office at Holy Cross has a walking tour brochure for those interested in paying respects at the individual sites.
06 of 08
Hills of Eternity Memorial Park (Colma)
The most famous interment at Hills of Eternity Jewish cemetery is Wyatt Earp, known best for his part in the Gunfight at O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.
Hills of Eternity closes a bit earlier than some of the other cemeteries along El Camino Real in Colma which are generally open sun up to sun down. Hills of Eternity found its way into song lyrics on Buckethead's Colma album.
07 of 08
Woodlawn Cemetery (Colma)
The most famous graves at Woodlawn are that of Etienne Guittard (founder of Guittard Chocolate), and Emperor Norton (Joshua Abraham Norton) -- an iconic figure in San Francisco history.
You'll often hear that famous author Henry Miller is buried at Woodlawn. The confusion arises because of the fact that California cattle rancher Henry Miller is, in fact, interred at Woodlawn. The famous author, on the other hand, had his ashes spread at Big Sur -- the coastal retreat that's also home to the Henry Miller Library.
08 of 08
Neptune Society Columbarium (San Francisco)
This columbarium (repository for human ashes) was part of the Odd Fellows cemetery, the graves from which were moved to Colma. The ashes of Harvey Milk and Chet Helms are here.