Running out of space to bury New York City’s dead

Full house: There are more than 200,000 people buried in Mt. Zion cemetery, a Jewish cemetery in Queens.

It’s hard enough to land prime real estate in New York City during life, but soon it will be even harder to find it for the afterlife.

New Yorkers are facing a shortage of space for them to rest in peace. Large cemeteries like the historic Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn could be out of room for new graves in as little as ten years, officials told Metro.

“If you purchased a lot in 1840, you have a right to bury people there and fill the lot,” said Jeff Richman, the historian for Green-Wood Cemetery, which was established in 1838. “There are now 560,000 buried here over 478 acres, so it fills up. We are very much in a situation of a very limited time horizon that we can offer people in-ground burial.”

Richman predicts the coming years will see more people forced to look outside New York City proper for their final resting place.

“You have the entire New Jersey market for burials, so I think that tends to more of an economically competitive model,” he said. “But I would question going across the river, where here you are getting a historic landscape.”

Officials at Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn had to get creative in order to extend capacity for another 20 years. Officials are utilizing every last foot of space they can find.

“The cemetery is using the remaining 10 or 8 feet between plots and the roadways and paths to create grave sites that are perpendicular to the road,” office manager Frank Lolly told Metro. 

“It’s a unique demographic we have in New York because [burials] are restricted to Long Island, Brooklyn and Queens,” Anthony Desmond of Canarsie Cemetery said. “The space is definitely more limited than other areas of the country.”

Pushing cremation at some graveyards

Most New York City cemeteries are being forced to focus on above-ground burial options like mausoleums, where caskets can be stacked.

Canarsie Cemetery has plans to build an entire “town” of mausoleums that will hold 10,000 new remains on some undeveloped space there.

“It was a desperation move for us … because we don’t have any other options,” Desmond said.

Cemetery officials also say cremation may soon be the most viable option for those who want their remains to stay in New York.

“We introduce the idea,” Lolly said. “We can’t buy or make land. We have to work within parameters of what we are given.”

Only one active cemetery left in Manhattan

Established in 1842, Trinity Cemetery & Mausoleum on Riverside Drive is the only cemetery still selling space for remains on the crowded island of Manhattan.

While there are no in-ground plots available, its crypts have space for caskets and there are niches for cremated remains.

It is the final resting place of some of history’s notable characters.

Famed naturalist John James Audobon is buried there, as is Charles Dickens’ son, Tennyson Dickens.
Ralph Ellison, author of “Invisible Man,” is buried there, as is actor Jerry Orbach. John Jacob Astor IV, who died on the Titanic, was also laid to rest there.

A grave matter worldwide

What are other cities doing to combat land shortage for new graves?

A law in New York lets cemeteries reclaim empty plots that are owned by families who have not made contact in 75 years. Cemeteries can also buy back purchased, but unused, plots from heirs.

Officials at the City of London cemetery are digging up old remains before reburying them deeper and burying new caskets above them in the same grave.

In Tokyo, if a grave or plot is not maintained for three years, temples have a right to move the remains into a tomb and resell the land.

In South Jakarta, cemeteries dealing with a lack of space are burying family members in the same grave, about half a meter apart.

To combat a cemetery shortage in Hong Kong, an architectural firm recently proposed a plan to build a floating cemetery in the city’s marina territory.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

NBA

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies…

By Kim PalmerCLEVELAND (Reuters) - NBA star LeBron James, whose recent return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in his home state of Ohio sparked a frenzy…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.