Money can buy a big, beautiful apartment in Manhattan, but it cannot buy a burial plot. With space for the living increasingly difficult to find in New York—at 300-square-feet, the new micro-apartments are scarcely bigger than a coffin—space for the dead is near impossible to come by.
It is, in fact, one can no longer be buried six-feet under in Manhattan, reports Metro New York. Trinity Cemetery & Mausoleum in Washington Heights is the only active cemetery in Manhattan, and all the cemetery has left is above-ground mausoleum space for caskets and cremation urn niches. The outer boroughs still have some sought-after in-ground space, but it’s expensive and hard-to-get. Things are so bad that the bargain conscious or cremation averse are looking in New Jersey.
“You have the entire New Jersey market for burials, so I think that tends to more of an economically competitive model,” Jeff Richman, the historian for Green-Wood Cemetery told the paper, noting that the Brooklyn cemetery now has 560,000 bodies and hardly any space for in-ground burials anymore. “But I would question going across the river, where here you are getting a historic landscape.”
Plus, you’d be spending all of eternity in New Jersey.
Still, cemeteries really don’t have much more space to bury the bodies. Cypress Hill Cemetery in Brooklyn tells Metro that it’s using the grassy buffers between the plots and the roadways to create new grave sites “perpendicular to the road.” Not exactly the place of peace and beauty one might have envisioned, but at least you’re still in Brooklyn?
Things are even worse at Canarsie Cemetery, where the cemetery director was unusually blunt when explaining its decision to build a “town” of mausoleums on the last undeveloped space in the cemetery.
“It was a desperation move for us … because we don’t have any other options,” he told the paper.
Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx still has space, but only for the next 20 to 100 years—so it’s already planning for life after it stops accepting the dead, trying to transform itself into a cultural institution. Not unlike the Marble Cemetery in the East Village—a verdant events space perfect for weddings or photo shoots, if you don’t mind dancing on the graves of some of New York’s early settlers.
Honestly, Hart Island isn’t looking so bad.