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New York Marble Cemetery

About this listing

New York's first burial place unaffiliated with a house of worship

Place Details

Borough : Manhattan
Neighborhood : East Village
Burial Site, Historic Site & Museum

Place Matters Profile

Enclosed by surrounding buildings for more than 150 years is a rare, undisturbed physical vestige of an earlier era in New York City. The New York Marble Cemetery was the first burial place in the city that was unaffiliated with a church. Built in 1831, at a time of urban epidemic, the mid-block lot was also unique for its grid of underground vaults that took the place of traditional--and potentially contaminant--earthen burials. There is now an active movement to restore the cemetery and encourage its continued use by the many families that own a stake in it.

Gripped by dread of contagion, New York City outlawed earthen burials south of Canal Street in 1830. Outbreaks of yellow fever had been regular since the early 1700s, and cholera had recently hit the city, foreshadowing a historic epidemic in 1832. The solid marble walls around the bodies at the new Marble Cemetery...

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Sources

Luo, Michael. "One-of-a-Kind Real Estate Deal For Eternal Rest in Manhattan." New York Times, November 7, 2003.

Neville, Chris. Interviewed by Marci Reaven for Place Matters. June, 2002.

"New York Marble Cemetery." Brochure.

"New York Marble Cemetery History." Brochure.

"New York Marble Cemetery Ownership and Restoration FAQs." Brochure.

Nominations

Chris Neville

The lack of space and perceived health danger of churchyard cemeteries led to edge-of-town graveyards in New York. The Marble Cemetery was constructed exclusively of underground family vaults and doesn't look like a typical burial ground. The original community of the cemetery -- the families of the deceased -- have long forgotten about Marble Cemetery, but the Cemetery is now part of the local community.


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