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
Local

Metro announces Earth Day New York partnership for…

Metro is pleased to announce we are once again the media partner of Earth Day New York for 2014.

International

Putin fields question from NSA fugitive Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of intelligence eavesdropping, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question on Thursday during…

Local

Cops release sketch of Madison Avenue jewelry robbery…

Authorities continue to look for a man suspected in a $54,000 jewelry heist at a Madison Avenue store from from last week.

National

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

Entertainment

Here's what to do in New York this…

PARTY Brooklyn Book Launch: Bourbon by Dane Huckelbridge, ft. Widow Jane Distilling Tonight, 7 p.m. powerHouse Arena 37 Main St., Dumbo Free, 718-666-3049 www.powerhousearena.com The…

The Word

'Mrs. Doubtfire' sequel in the works

Finally, Hollywood is making your dreams come true - they're making that "Mrs. Doubtfire" sequel you've been clamoring for all these years.

The Word

Lawsuit accuses 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer of raping…

A new lawsuit accuses director Bryan Singer of sexual assault against a minor.

Movies

The Cannes Film Festival announces its 2014 lineup

The lineup of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival was announced this morning, promising the latest from a slew of usual (and some unusual) suspects.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

NBA

Nets-Raptors first round NBA playoffs schedule, TV, times

The Nets tanked their way to the No. 6 seed over the course of the final few games of the season.

NBA

Knicks wrap up season with win over Raptors

The Knicks wrapped up their season as it began — undermanned — but that still didn’t deter them from ending it the right way.

MLB

Adam Warren closes out doubleheader sweep for Yankees

Adam Warren navigated a tricky ninth inning earn the Yankees a 2-0 victory over the Cubs.

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.