8. St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery

St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery is one of the oldest churches in all of New York City, and the second oldest in Manhattan. It has strong ties to the Stuyvesant family — Peter Stuyvesant built the first chapel that stood here in 1660 on what was his lrage farm. Peter and his kin are interred in the family vault underneath the church. The churchyard was dedicated to vault interments, and you can find numerous family vaults here. On our visit, we found names like Schermerhorn, Livingston, Tomkins, Suydam, and Sloughter, surrounded by ivy. The body of department store tycoon A.T. Stewart was stolen from a vault here leading to a sensational multi-year search.

The cobblestones in the burial ground were added with assistance from a few dozen teenagers in 1969, at a time when the graveyard was a hangout for drug users and subject to random dumping. The Reverend J.C. Michael Allen who led the redesign project told The New York Times, “A few people have complained to me about the cemetery project, but I don’t think they understand. There are many ways to honor the dead, but for me and the anguished people who are my parishioners, I think the best way to honor them is not to die with them, but to live with them.”