The Cemetery Belt

by Don Friedman on May 3, 2017


The southwest border of Queens, where it abuts Brooklyn and the Newtown Creek, has few living inhabitants. It is, rather, the cemetery belt. It’s shown up in a lot of movies and TV shows, because you can easily frame a picture with gravestones in the foreground and the midtown Manhattan skyline in the background. The Times explains how it developed here.

These days, with the modern technology of embalming and refrigeration and with a modern understanding of how diseases spread, cemeteries and their related industries don’t seem so terribly unsanitary. It’s easy to see how that did not used to be true and why they were banished from the city center. In the late 1800s and early 1900s Queens still contained a lot of farms and undeveloped land, and it must have seemed the perfect place to create a bunch of cemeteries. Who could have guessed that it would have well over two million people before 2000?

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