Bryant Park is one of the city’s most illustrious public spaces, but it has come a long way from its more humble origins. As we’ll show in this guide, the history and architecture reveal the many secrets that lie beneath and around the park today.

10. Bryant Park Used to be a Cemetery for NYC’s Poor

A designated public space since 1686, Bryant Park became a potter’s field (a cemetery for the city’s poor) in 1823, one year after the land became part of New York City’s jurisdiction. It remained a burial ground until 1840 when the space was transformed into the Croton Distributing Reservoir. The bodies underneath were moved to Wards Island in the East River. Unlike Washington Square Park, there are likely no remnants of human remains here anymore since it was transformed first into a reservoir for the city’s drinking water.

Check out what other NYC parks used to be cemeteries!