Important Atlanta milestones are represented at Oakland, from early builders, to Civil War soldiers, to leaders of industry, to Civil Rights pioneers, no matter where you turn, history surrounds you. It is a shining example of the “rural garden” cemetery movement of the 19th century. The garden cemetery featured winding paths, large shade trees, flowers, and shrubs, and appealing vistas. The garden cemetery concept was a forerunner of public park development in America. Today, Oakland Cemetery is still used as a park for the community and is a valued green space in Atlanta. It is also a repository for stunning art and architecture. Elaborate mausoleums, soaring sculptures and effusive inscriptions speak of an age when the bereaved found consolation in extravagant expression. Impressive art and architecture can be seen in many styles: Victorian, Greek Revival, Gothic, Neo-classical, Egyptian and Exotic Revival. Several mausoleums feature stained glass windows from Tiffany Studios. Bronze urns over six feet high were cast at Gorham Manufacturing Company in New York, the first art foundry in America.
Oakland Cemetery is the oldest cemetery, as well as one of the largest green spaces, in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded as "Atlanta Cemetery" in 1850 on six acres of land southeast of the city, it was renamed in 1872 to reflect the large number of trees growing in the area. By that time, the city had grown and the cemetery had enlarged correspondingly to the current 48 acres. Since then, Atlanta has continued to expand, so that the cemetery is now located in the center of the city. Oakland is an excellent example of a Victorian style cemetery, and reflects the "garden cemetery" movement.
The original 6 acres of Oakland remains one of the oldest historical plots of land in Atlanta, most of the rest of the city having been burned in 1864. Because of its age and location, the cemetery directly reflects the history and changing culture of the City of Atlanta and the significant events it has seen. Names of Atlanta streets, buildings, parks, subdivisions, and more can be found within the cemetery gates. An estimated 70,000 people are interred at Oakland, and while the last plots were sold in 1884, there are still regular burials today. These are largely conducted on family-owned plots or areas owned by Atlanta (one of the most recent being former mayor Maynard Jackson, whose plot was contributed by the city.