We thought that the scene at the end of Poltergeist, where the dad yells at the real estate developer after unspeakable horrors are visited upon his family, would be enough to deter any housing developer from building over a cemetery.
But apparently the words: “You son of a bitch! You moved the cemetery, but you left the bodies, didn’t you?” did not have a lasting effect on the series of owners who have tried to develop a colonial-era Queens graveyard.
It can be hard to know where all the bodies are buried in New York (Washington Square Park, Bryant Park and Madison Square Park are just a few of the city’s re-purposed resting places).
Potter’s fields rarely fare well over time (regardless of the surrounding real estate’s desirability), but many of the city’s historic cemeteries have been well-loved—watched over by attentive congregations, descendants and preservationists (see: the Trinity Church graveyard in lower Manhattan).
Unfortunately, even the most attentive caretakers cannot always protect the dead from development, or an errant backhoe.