Posts Tagged ‘New York Marble Cemetery’

The East Village is a crowded necropolis

March 10, 2014

I don’t know how many New Yorkers are officially buried inside the borders of the East Village.

Newyorkmarblecemeterysign2

But considering that the neighborhood has three burial grounds dating back to the late 18th century—and had at least one more on 11th Street, now the site of apartments—it appears to be a part of the city that officially hosts more than its share of dead.

NewyorkcitymarblecemeteryThe New York Marble Cemetery, founded in 1831 as the final resting place for members of the city’s oldest and most distinguished families.

The narrow entrance is on Second Avenue between Second and Third Streets, and along the walls are vaults containing Varicks, Motts, Pecks, and Deys.

The last of the 2,080 internments took place in 1937, though most vaults date from 1830 to 1870.

Around the corner on Second Street is the similarly named New York City Marble Cemetery, home to 258 vaults housing Roosevelts, Willets, Blackwells (at right), Kips, and the wonderfully named merchant Preserved Fish.

This graveyard, also once set amid undeveloped land, filled up fast; by 1835, it reached its limits.

At the northern end of the neighborhood is the cemetery ground at St. Mark’s Church, at Second Avenue and 11th Street.

Stmarkschurchyardvaults

The remains of Peter Stuyvesant, who died in 1672, are contained here. Walk along the brick paths, and you’ll see that the churchyard features dozens of marble markers noting the vaults of ex-mayor Philip Hone and ex-governor Daniel Tompkins, among others.

11thstreetcemeterySt. Mark’s Church also had another graveyard across Second Avenue on 11th Street dating to 1803, according to the New York Cemetery Project website (seen here on an old city map).

“An unknown number of individuals were buried at St. Mark’s Cemetery until burials there were prohibited in 1851,”  the website states.

“The remains from this graveyard were removed to Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn in 1864 and residences were built on the site.”

Whoever was once interred here now resides in the necropolis that is Brooklyn.

A hidden cemetery in the East Village

June 28, 2010

Yellow fever had a big impact on the young city. Lethal outbreaks in the late 18th and early 19th centuries led officials to ban in-ground burials.

So New Yorkers opted to buy a plot in a cemetery and have their corpse stored in a marble vault (which were thought to prevent the spread of germs)—like the vaults at the New York Marble Cemetery.

The entrance is on Second Avenue between Second and Third streets; an alley leads you to a secret garden, a half-acre bounded by stone walls.

Those walls note who is buried in the vaults underground. They’re a bigwig lot: Varicks, Deys, Motts, Pecks, and Scribners.

Amazingly, this pastoral patch of the city was almost turned into a playground. In the 1890s, social reformer Jacob Riis pushed the city to seize the land for street kids who had no place to play.

The city didn’t bite, of course, and now there are two 19th century marble cemeteries in the East Village. The other, the New York City Marble Cemetery, is around the corner on Second Street.