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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.

1. Madison Square Park

Madison Square Park

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.

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  1. ethelwest says:

    how do I go about finding my farther that was burier in a pot? in New York City THE BRONX

  2. randy says:

    this is what shows that what a nice positive attitude can do.

  3. […] Untapped Cities recently posted an article on the surprising number New York landmarks (mostly parks) which were formerly cemeteries.  Union Square is listed as being a former resting place along with Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, and Washington Square Park, among others.  There is some doubt.  The article states it is possible that land from a potter’s field that was closed in 1807 was incorporated into the park when the Commissioner’s grid was planned.  The park has planned a very prominent location in American and New York History.  George Washington marched through the Square after reclaiming the island from the British (hence the statue, the Croton Aqueduct was celebrated here, the funeral processions of Presidents Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln passed through here, and the first labor day parade and Earth Day celebrations were held there. […]

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