A pastoral little Elysian Field in the middle of Tenement City.
I used to live on East 2nd street, so I would walk by the New York City Marble Cemetery every day on my way to class. Perhaps it’s that little twinge of Lydia Deetz morbidity in me, or the fact that I listen to the Smiths “The Queen is Dead” too often, but I’d always peer in and wish I could walk around. Lucky me, they open it up to the public for a weekend every October.
The cemetery is not nearly as creepy as some I’ve seen…in fact, it’s a literal breath of fresh air in an area dominated by looming tenement buildings still as oppressive as the days before they cost an arm and a leg to live in.
The graves are old…some dating to pre-Revolutionary New Amsterdam, though it wasn’t an official cemetery until 1831. I spoke with a woman from the preservation society, and she said that it is devoted entirely to family vaults, and those families are still entitled to bury their dead there (though the last internment was at some point in the 1940s).
It’s a nice spacious little green, with a few unimposing grave markers and marble benches to sit and ponder the surrounding neighborhood, masked by the shade of weeping willows. I wish it were open year-round, as it’s a nice place to go and collect your thoughts, but I suppose such things aren’t possible if you want to keep the space looking nice. But if you ever find yourself on East 2nd street in the East Village…take a walk by.