The wisdom of the dead in Manhattan graveyards

Alexander Hamilton, Robert Fulton, and dozens of ordinary 18th- and 19th-century New Yorkers sleep for eternity in the cemetery behind Trinity Church, at Broadway and Wall Street. And a few blocks up Broadway, off Fulton Street, more early residents are buried in the graveyard of St. Paul’s Chapel.

Both are peaceful yet unsettling places; Trinity’s cemetery is older than the current church building itself. The jagged, weathered headstones mark the graves of men and women, Revolutionary War soldiers and seamen, and lots of young kids. It’s hard to read most of the headstones because the elements have erased the names and dates.

But many are legible. And to remind visitors of their own mortality, several of the headstones feature this eerie address:

“Behold and See as you Pass By
As You are Now so Once was I
As I am Now you Soon will Be
Prepare for Death and Follow Me”

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5 Responses to “The wisdom of the dead in Manhattan graveyards”

  1. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    There’s also a tiny cemetery, perhaps ten graves on 11th Street off 6th Avenue

  2. wildnewyork Says:

    Those Sephardic cemeteries are little treasures. But as far as I can read the headstones don’t warn visitors that they too will leave this life:

  3. mykola (mick) dementiuk Says:

    They’re great to come across. As you wander about, lost in your own selfish little thoughts, there is Death staring at you, brrrrrrr…Gives you the shivers. To bad the city has pretty much erased all the decay that we’re drifting into. Nice reminders….

  4. MMerchant Says:

    People of that era were quite familiar with death – life spans were short and the loss of a child was almost expected. A harsh way to become prepared for misfortune and unexpected tragedy, but without a doubt they were made of sterner stuff.

  5. Charles Says:

    great to walk through inside the church and out…think about the people and their lives…

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