Originally located five miles from downtown Cleveland, this cemetery was named for its views of Lake Erie six miles to the north. In 1869 the Lake View Cemetery Association was formed and purchased nearly 200 acres of rolling agricultural land. The association commissioned Adolph Strauch to create a cemetery that would also be enjoyed as an arboretum, park, and bird sanctuary. Strauch’s Picturesque design took full advantage of the site's rolling topography, with winding roads providing a scenographic landscape experience, providing views of expanses of open lawn, naturalistic water features, and memorials.
Between 1890 and 1930 Lake View expanded to 285 acres and in 1897 Boston landscape architect Ernest Bowditch was commissioned to plan and facilitate improvements to the cemetery’s infrastructure. Italian gardeners and stonemasons, many of whom settled in nearby Little Italy, performed much of the labor. On Memorial Day 1890 the 180-foot James A. Garfield Monument designed by George H. Keller was added and in 1901 the Wade Memorial Chapel designed by architects Hubbell & Benes was constructed, with interiors designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
Throughout the first half of the century, German nurseryman Ernst Muny transformed Lake View into an arboretum. By the end of the 1920s, Cleveland-based landscape architect A.D. Taylor created a master plan for further development including thousands of additional plantings and vista management guidelines. In 1978 the Lake View Cemetery Dam, the largest in Cuyahoga County, was constructed above the cemetery’s two lakes for flood control. The James A. Garfield Monument and Wade Chapel were both listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.