You may have noticed when driving from Queens to Brooklyn that at some point you find yourself surrounded by a sea of headstones in every direction. The city’s “cemetery belt”–reportedly visible from space–stretches for two and a half miles along the Queens/Brooklyn border and is so populous that there are more than twice as many dead people in Queens than living ones. What’s up with this cemetery city?
Each decade in the New York metropolitan area about 500,000 people are buried in cemetery plots, taking up a dwindling amount of land and outputting cremation smog into the air. With this growing issue in mind, a trans-disciplinary research and design group at Columbia University known as DeathLab has been working for the past five years to reconceive “how we live with death in the metropolis.” One of their proposals is Constellation Park, a system of hundreds of burial pods suspended under the Manhattan Bridge that together create a twinkling public park. Atlas Obscura shared the design, which, if built, could reportedly accommodate around 10 percent of city deaths a year.
Does this time of year get you thinking about where you’d like to spend the afterlife? Would a swanky Manhattan address be to your liking? If so, you’d better act fast. There are only two burial plots left on the island and they’re currently on the market for $350,000 each.
Daily Intelligencer reports that the New York Marble Cemetery (not to be confused with the New York City Marble Cemetery–more on that here) in the East Village has two available family vaults that can hold about a dozen descendants (“each generation gains some space as the previous ones turn to dust”). The Trinity Cemetery & Mausoleum on West 153rd Street has a few inground burial plots vacant, but they’re reserved for “VIPs;” those at the Marble Cemetery are the only ones being freely sold.
Photo via Plowboylifestyle/CC
Not so surprisingly, Manhattan has a slew of cemeteries, graveyards and built-over potter’s fields (for unclaimed bodies). Madison Square Park was originally used as a potter’s field, as was Bryant Park. And though these swaths of land served many purposes over the years, it took an eternity before they were lovely public parks. From the late 1600s, burial grounds were generally confined to what would now be just south of City Hall, but more began popping up further uptown during the 1800s as the city’s population grew in leaps and bounds.
With Halloween upon us, tis’ the season for checking out if living near one might give a buyer a bit of a ghostly scare or whether it takes an eternity to sell when the living room window overlooks tombstones marking coffins buried six feet under.
Hear what experts say, and then learn about the city’s most notable graveyards.
In the spirit of Halloween, yesterday we took a look at whether or not living near a cemetery affects real estate prices in New York. Apparently, on average, homes close to cemeteries were slightly smaller, but sold for more due to a higher cost per square foot. And though this is what the research suggests, we want to know your thoughts. Would it totally spook you to look out your window and see tombstones instead of tenements or would you not bat an eye if your dream apartment just happened to be steps away from coffins?