A look at New York City potter’s fields, the forgotten cemeteries that lie beneath the most famous parks in NYC.

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries, a number of potter’s fields (cemeteries for paupers) were scattered around Manhattan. Some of NYC’s most famous parks were built right on top of those forgotten cemeteries, including Madison Square Park, Washington Square Park, Union Square Park, Central Park, Bryant Park, and Sara D. Roosevelt Park.

Highlights include:
• Grave robbers
• The 20,000 bodies that lie beneath a famous park
• Yellow fever
• 18th century NIMBYs
• Construction workers finding tombstones

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Sources consulted RE: New York City Potter’s Fields

Websites RE: New York City Potter’s Fields

  • https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2561167/potter%E2%80%99s-field-(washington-square-park)
  • https://brooklynbased.com/2020/04/10/from-the-archives-the-past-lives-of-city-parks-as-potters-fields/
  • https://hyperallergic.com/75684/when-will-there-be-a-memorial-for-nycs-second-african-burial-ground/
  • https://nycemetery.wordpress.com/category/african-american-cemeteries/
  • https://www.nps.gov/afbg/planyourvisit/maps.htm
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kongo_language
  • https://gothamist.com/news/tombstone-unearthed-in-washington-square-park
  • https://brooklynbased.com/2012/08/24/the-bones-beneath-fort-greene-park/
  • https://nycemetery.wordpress.com/2019/05/15/public-burial-ground-madison-square-park-2/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yellow_fever
  • https://nycemetery.wordpress.com/2019/05/09/public-burial-ground-madison-square-park/
  • https://nycemetery.wordpress.com/2019/05/30/public-burial-ground-bryant-park/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madison_Square_and_Madison_Square_Park
  • https://www.huffpost.com/entry/manhattans-forgotten-graveyards_b_4171691
  • https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/usa/new-york/articles/a-brief-history-of-union-square-new-york-city/
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Square,_Manhattan
  • https://nypost.com/2014/10/25/the-hidden-cemeteries-of-nyc/
  • https://www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/before-they-were-parks/manhattan
  • https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2561849/potter’s-field-(madison-square-park)
  • https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2561167/memorial-search?page=1#sr-187815630
  • https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2561363
  • King’s Handbook of New York: https://books.google.com/books?id=MEEAAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA505&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q&f=false

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