Here’s a fun fact: While you are strolling through one of NYC’s beloved public parks, you are likely strolling over hundreds, if not thousands of New York’s most forgotten dead. Washington Square, Union, Madison Square, Bryant, and City Hall Parks’ were all once land used to bury the city’s dead. Here are some of the city’s other forgotten cemeteries:
1. New York Marble Cemetery
Where: 41 1/2 2nd Ave, East Village
Also known as the Second Avenue Cemetery, this small memorial ground was founded in 1830. Memorials of the buried are not on gravestones, but on plaques on the surrounding walls. All burials are 10 feet underground in white marble vaults. To access the marble vaults, one must expose the stone slab by digging by hand and then lifting the stone (not recommended).
2. New York City Marble Cemetery
Where: 52-74 East 2nd Street, East Village
Founded in 1831 just one year after the New York Marble Cemetery, the New York City Marble Cemetery is one block away from the original East Village tombs. Building on the fashionable success of these kind of plots, NYCMC is home to over 250 underground vaults.
3. The Amiable Child Monument
Where: 52-74 East 2nd Street, East Village
Near 125th Street on Riverside Drive lies the tomb of 5-year-old St. Clair Pollack. The boy died nearby from a fall from the cliffs on July 15, 1797. When the property was sold, the family asked that the tomb stay enclosed and sacred. The marker has been replaced a few times over the years but, for the most part, has remained in the state as requested by the family.
4. Prospect Cemetery
Where: 159th Street and Beaver Road, Jamaica, Queens
This is the earliest known cemetery in NYC and one of the few remaining Colonial cemeteries in Queens. Its use dates back to November 1668. Designated for exclusive use by the Presbytarians of the time, this is also the final resting place of many Revolutionary and Civil War soldiers. This is an independently owned cemetery that is not affiliated with the city.
5. Second Cemetery Of The Spanish And Portuguese
Where: 72 W 11th St, Greenwich Village
This 30 grave plot of land off of 11th Street was once the site of burials for the oldest synagogue in the country. Burials started here in 1805 and the site was filled to capacity by 1830 when the extension of 11th Street cut through the already-full cemetery.
6. Brinckerhoff Cemetery
Where: 183rd St and 73rd Ave, Fresh Meadows, Queens
This cemetery is a colonial-era Dutch burial ground. The plot of land was landmarked in 2012, stopping it from being developed. The current owner of the cemetery claims that she did not know it was a cemetery when she bought it, which is possible considering that it is so overgrown that you cannot see headstones. Up to 200 people could be buried here.
Where: 31-30 to 31-36 54th Street, Woodside, Queens
This cemetery was established in 1733 on the property of Samuel Moore. It was during the Civil War that the last recorded burial took place here. The graveyard contains 42 graves and was declared a landmark in 1997.
8. St. Mark’s Church-In-The-Bowery
Where: 131 East 10th Street, Greenwich Village
St. Marks is the oldest house of worship in NYC that is still in use. The burial yard also bares significance as the resting place of Peter Stuyvesant and several members of the Minthorne family. There are no traditional tombstones here, but there are severely-worn stone slabs that mark the vaults in which the historically wealthy New Yorkers are buried.
9. Revolutionary War Cemetery
Where: On Mackay between Narrows and Shore, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn
Also known as the Barkaloo Cemetery, this burial ground was founded in 1725 by Dutch immigrants. The last burial here took place in 1848 and is the resting place of many Revolutionary War veterans. This is the smallest cemetery in Brooklyn with only around 60 people buried here.
10. Trinity Church Cemetery & Mausoleum
Where: 3720 Broadway, Washington Heights
Trinity Church Cemetery in Washington Heights is Manhattan’s only still-admitting burial ground. Established in 1842, these burial grounds hold some of NYC’s most notable figures such as John Jacob Astor, Caroline Webster Schermerhorn Astor, Fernando Wood, A. Oakey Hall, Cadwallader D. Colden, and Edward I. Koch
11. The Reformed Church Of Staten Island
Where: Richmond Ave and Richmond Terrace, Staten Island
This church graveyard is the oldest in Staten Island. The first burial took place here in the late 1600s and the graveyard has more than 690 markers. This was originally the burial place of Dutch settlers but eventually became used only by the church in 1714.
12. The Cathedral Basilica Of St. James
Where: 250 Cathedral Place, Downtown Brooklyn
In the mid-1800s, the yard around this church began to be used for burials. Many of the yard’s graves are flat against the ground, while most upright headstones have dwindled throughout the years.
13. Joseph Rodman Drake Park
Where: Drake Park Street and Hunts Point Ave, Bronx
This is the burial ground of the Hunt and the Leggett families. Joseph Rodman Drake was a famous poet in the 1800s. He frequently visited the Hunt property, which the cemetery now sits. There are 50 graves here, including Drake’s.
14. Machpelah Cemetery
Where: 8230 Cypress Hills Street, Flushing, Queens
This cemetery is best known known for being the resting place of the famous magician, Houdini (and the rest of his family). The site, being the victim of extensive vandalism, has fallen is disrepair in recent years and David Copperfield himself has donated money to bring this site back to life (or so to speak).
15. Bayside Cemetery
Where: 80th Street and Glenmore Ave, Bayside Queens
The Bayside Cemetery is one of the oldest Jewish cemeteries in New York City. In recent years, this cemetery has fallen in extensive disrepair. Bayside has a rich history as the resting place of war veterans and even a Titanic survivor. In 2011, reports of exposed human remains got the attention of Eyewitness News.
16. Hart Island
Where: Western end of the Long Island Sound
Nearly one million of New York City’s dead reside on Hart Island, a potter’s field. Used mostly as a burial place for the city’s unknown dead, the island is maintained by prisoners from Rikers Island. One third of the mass burials are for infants whose parents could not afford a proper funeral. Families can visit the island on the last Thursday of every month.
17. African Burial Ground
Where: 290 Broadway, Financial District
In 1991, more than 400 men, women, and children were found buried on a 6 acre piece of land in Lower Manhattan. In 1993, the site was awarded designation as the African Burial Ground since it was found that those resting there were free and enslaved Africans.
18. Friends Quaker Cemetery
Where: Prospect Park Southwest and 16th Street, Prospect Park, Brooklyn
This cemetery was established before the popular neighborhood park that now surrounds it, Prospect Park. With over 2,000 graves, this remains an active burial ground for the Quaker community of Brooklyn. The cemetery is closed to the public and enclosed by a fence.