5. Wayanda Park

From as early as 1737, the land bounded by Hollis Avenue, Springfield Avenue, and Robard Lane was a Potter’s Field shared by the seven original towns in Queens County. As a burial ground for paupers and criminals, this cemetery was never intended to be a place for memorials and visitation. Wooden stakes took the place of tombstones and the dead held onto their identity only so long on the stakes remained: once the wood rotted away, a new grave could be dug on the site.

After the Queens County Cemetery closed around the turn of the twentieth century, the residence of the local neighborhood petitioned the government to have the site turned into a park. Without any gravestones, the transition was simple and Wayanda Park opened in 1912. Situated directly behind P.S. 34, the playground is jointly operated by the Parks Department and the Board of Education. The name “Wayanda” is thought to be a variant of the Native American word for “the place of happy hearts.” Aside from the sign posted by the Parks Department, the name is the only tribute to the dead interred beneath the playground, despite the human remains that were found under the park in 2002.

Next, check out Surprise! What NYC’s Former Cemeteries Are Now and NYC Unearthed: 5 Notable Archaeological Sites in Manhattan.