Despite the scarcity of open space, New York City has its share of famous cemeteries from the historic Woodlawn, Green-Wood and New York Marble Cemeteries to the lesser-known “Potter’s Field” on Hart Island. Beyond human remains, however, the city and surrounding areas are also the final resting places of a number of ill-fated objects and living things. See below for our picks for New York’s most interesting non-human graveyards.
1. Payphone Graveyard under the West Side Highway
Source: Dave Bledsoe.
With wi-fi access now available at many subway stations, it’s hard to imagine a time before smartphones. But the vestiges of a pre-cell phone era still exist in the hundred discarded payphone booths tucked under the West Side Highway at 135th St. and 12th Ave. New York photographer Dave Bledsoe discovered this eerie scene on a recent walk and immediately captured the phone “graveyard.”
“Seeing these phones piled up like this makes people think of the lost connections and the missing sense of place and permanence they bring,” he told the Atlantic Cities.
Source: Dave Bledsoe.
But telephone booths, though less necessary now, are far from extinct. The Atlantic Cities reports statistics from NYC’s Department Information Technology & Telecommunications that 10,524 payphones are still active in the city, with 5,429 in Manhattan. But not all pay phones residents welcome pay phones anymore, like Community Board 4 in Hell’s Kitchen, who crowdsourced problematic phonebooths in their neighborhood.
2. Baseball Graveyard in Queens
Some baseballs in the graveyard are so old, the leather casing has fallen off.
Mets fans may expect Queens’ Citi Field to be littered with baseballs, but they should also keep their eyes peeled for the baseball graveyard by the abandoned Rockaway Beach Branch (aka the Queensway) of the Long Island Railroad, as discovered by AbandonedNYC.
3. Staten Island Boat Graveyard
Perhaps a tetanus shot is in order before venturing too far into the boat graveyard on Staten Island.
Graveyards don’t need to be on land. Case in point: the Staten Island Boat Graveyard in Rossville, Staten Island, is the only remaining commercial marine salvage yard in NYC. It’s a perfect site for exploration, but you have to either make it through the marshy terrain without losing a shoe first or kayak there.
4. Dead Horse Bay in Brooklyn
Dead Horse Beach is littered with glass, trash and bones. Courtesy of Diana Huang.
Yes, there really are dead horses buried in Dead Horse Beach, just off Dead Horse Bay and next to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn. First used as a land dump from 1850 to 1930, the beach became the site of horse-rendering plants (basically a horse crematorium) from the 1850s to the 1910s. The beach is scattered with bits of old garbage and even some pieces of horse bone, a reminder of what’s hidden under the sand.
5. Motorcycle Graveyard in Lockport, NY (no longer exists)
The motorcycle junkyard was a treasure trove of antique parts. Source: Chris Seward.
To end the list, here’s a graveyard that no longer exists. Until 2010, a dilapidated building in the Erie Canal town of Lockport, NY housed thousands of old motorcycles. The site was a scrapyard, but its inventory was left behind when it was abandoned. A few years ago, the city condemned the building and ordered the owner to clear out the contents. Today the building sits empty, without a trace of its antique contents.
Stay tuned for our report on unique non-human graveyards around the world. Get in touch with the author @catku.