Red Ink and Rewrites Too

Duplicates online comments, to keep track.

Subject: Re: urban cemeteries

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Back in 1999, after working in NYC’s City Hall Park’s, “first almshouse cemetery” which could be literally, the first cemetery of a “poorhouse” in that there were other charities prior, perhaps the distinction a public vs. a private vs. church vs. state (purity vs. danger) for Parsons, Inc., in the middle of a rehabilitation effort to restore the City Hall Park and to upgrade its security (bollards, stronger fence, etc., and paving stone with outlines of former structure locations in darker stone from excavation and cartographic research) in which I found in a planned location for a water fountain, two skeletons atop another, almost bare, except for a piece of what might have been a small wooden piece on one wrist what had been impressed with some material that had left an archetypal “judeo-christian” tablets outline. I have not been back there, it was closed since 9/11 and just recently reopened, (so to visit the Horace Greeley and Joseph Pulitzer monuments and other park uses), so the “fate” of the drinking fountain remains a mystery.

I assisted the research of the “Cooper Square Urban Renewal” an area once to have decimated 25 blocks for housing projects in the early 1970s, reduced, in my research with Nancy Stehling, MS, RPA, to the parts of three blocks on Bowery and Houston streets (in NYC they say “how ston”) which had shown on the maps as containing a Methodist and a Quaker cemetery. Just outside the study area are two marble vault cemeteries, the first non-denominational ones in the city and what may also be nearby, shown on one map, further down the Bowery from that intersection, a “Negro Burial Ground”. As urban sites are often “pits within pits” on top of accumulated building and other efforts, we researched the history of the cemeteries and found the Quaker and Methodist had been removed in the 1840s, from the “…oldest street in America” (Leo Hershkowitz, Encyclopedia Americana) in the neighborhood of New York’s original “theater district” and later Yiddish theater district.

We were not privy to any of the excavation that went on there, though I did watch city hearings on the subject of the demolition and heard a resident of one of the structures, noted Oxford-trained scholar and feminist Kate Millet speak. I would suggest that researchers be given some “heads up” on work or have the rumor mill continue to grind as this does. Or hire the locals.


Written by georgejmyersjr

06/25/2008 at 2:21 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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