The Catacombs of New York City
Though a far newer city than Paris, even New York City has catacombs. This 1896 New York Times article, barely legible in a scan, reveals that the catacombs under the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Little Italy were accessible then via a trap door in the church yard on Mott Street. Even over a 100 years ago, when the article was written, many of the engravings were already illegible: “long lines of slabs with half-erased names stretch away, and finally lose themselves in darkness.”
Untapped Cities visited the catacombs during OHNY Weekend in 2011 with photographer Chuck Lau and featured the catacombs in the book Secret Brooklyn: An Unusual Guide.
Catacomb inside Green-Wood Cemetery
Green-Wood cemetery is visited by an estimated half a million locals and tourists a year. The vast 478 acres is the home to 560,000 deceased who include Civil War veterans, Leonard Bernstein, Boss Tweed, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Samuel Morse. There are 30 vaults in the catacombs at Green-Wood, and, in many cases, one family owns each vault.
The same New York Times article also reports that the method of burial at the Protestant Episcopal Church on 95th Street “practically causes catacombs to exist beneath the church” and that other, more isolated, catacombs exist as the private tomb of Benedictine Convent near Hunter’s Point and Peter Stuyvesant’s tomb under St. Mark’s Church on the Bowery.