This week Undiscovered New York is “digging up” a rather morbid topic: the cemeteries. The New York City metropolitan area has a population of around 18 million residents. However this number only reflects those that still have a pulse. When you’re talking about an urban area with history dating back to the 16th Century, we’re talking about millions and millions of lives that came and went within the confines of the city’s boundaries. And they all had to be buried somewhere.
When one thinks of a cemetery, it’s a place that’s frequently associated with stagnation and death. Yet the constant dynamism and momentum of New York does not allow any site to remain at rest. New York’s many cemeteries remain an important part in the city’s constantly changing patchwork and are filled with not only the stories of the past but also of the city’s future and continued vitality.
After the jump Undiscovered New York will take you inside some of the city’s most famous cemeteries. Interested in learning about New York’s role in the invention of baseball? Want to visit the habitat of a flock of tropical birds living in New York City? Would you be curious to know there’s a cemetery smack-dab in the middle of the East Village? Click below to get the whole story…
Arguably one of New York City’s most famous grave sites, Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 in an area just southwest of the Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Among those interred at Green-Wood include 1980’s downtown auteur Jean-Michel Basquiat, infamous 1800’s gang leader William “Bill the Butcher” Poole (portrayed by Daniel Day Lewis in Gangs of New York), as well as hundreds of early pioneers of a new 1800’s sport called baseball.
Visitors to Green-Wood will most certainly want to check out the Gothic Revival entrance gate at the cemetery’s entrance on 5th Avenue and 25th Street. In addition to the beautiful design, it’s also the nesting grounds for a flock of monk parakeets from South America that now call the cemetery home. The birds escaped from a container at JFK Airport in the 1960’s and have populated the area ever since.
New York Marble Cemetery
Hidden in the heart of New York’s happening East Village neighborhood, the New York Marble Cemetery and is the oldest non-sectarian cemetery in the city of New York. First established in 1830, the cemetery was founded to deal with recent outbreaks of Yellow Fever. Though the Marble Cemetery houses a few notable New Yorkers, it’s more impressive for its location. Hidden behind a narrow metal gate on Second Avenue, visitors enter a quiet walled sanctuary surrounded on all sides by the bustling urban life of Manhattan. The cemetery is typically open the fourth Sunday of each month, March through November, for those interested in checking it out.
Trinity Church Cemetery
Directly across from Ground Zero lies one of Manhattan’s most famous cemeteries, and the only active grave site within the borough, at Trinity Church. The church’s graveyard at 74 Trinity Place is the final resting place for some of America’s most famous figures, including Alexander Hamilton and New York fur baron John Jacob Astor and steamboat inventor Robert Fulton.