In New York City’s earliest days, Wall Street was the site of a wall constructed to keep the British out, Canal Street was a canal, and the rest of the Island was the countryside. As the City expanded northward, it enveloped and urbanized its rural backyard. However, the bucolic landscape of Manhattan was not the only thing to be overtaken by the encroaching City. The Island’s cemeteries were also evicted, ever northward, and finally banished to the outer boroughs.
Presented below is a roundup of some of Manhattan’s former cemeteries.
Madison Square Park, named after James Madison, was opened to the public in 1847. The land was home to a military parade ground, a United States Army Arsenal, and a House of Refuge for juvenile delinquents. Between 1794 and 1797, the land was also home to a potter’s field (a common burial ground for those unable to afford burial in another cemetery or for those who died unknown), after which it moved to Washington Square Park.