Halloween – maybe a visit to a cemetery?
In the East Village there are two cemeteries that may merit a visit at but should be seen when you are going to the East Village for other reasons.
Here is a reprint of a blog by Jeremiah Moss who writes for the Metro Newspaper Group.
There are two marble cemeteries in the East Village, the New York Marble and the New York City Marble. They have nothing to do with each other, but they’re both very old and almost always locked to the public, except for a few weekends each year.
The smaller of the two, the New York Marble Cemetery, is almost completely hidden, a secret greenery between tenements, marked only by a small gate on Second Avenue. Inside, surrounded by a high stone wall here are no gravestones—and no graves. You wouldn’t know you’re in a cemetery if it weren’t for the wall plaques that mark the underground vaults where bodies lie.
Marble cemeteries have only marble-lined vaults, constructed for the purpose of containing miasma, the toxic vapors long ago believed to be emitted by rotting corpses.
Only a descendant of an original purchaser of a vault can be entombed here. No one’s done it in nearly 80 years.
Around the corner, on East Second Street, is the New York City Marble Cemetery. It’s the larger of the two and the more visible, with a long wrought-iron fence. Mostly marked by plaques, some of the vaults here have monuments above them. One of the largest belongs to Mangle Minthorne Quakenbos, real estate magnate with a spectacular name. But the most famous here is Preserved Fish—famous for his curious name, not for his life, which was spent in shipping and banking and outliving one wife after another.
It’s a pleasure to stroll through a cemetery, a peaceful activity not often possible in Manhattan. As I strolled along, I didn’t notice any miasmatic vapors, so the marble must still be doing its job.