Art, architecture, celebrities, nature all for free in NYC? No way. Way! Critically acclaimed author Douglas Keister shows us the unlikely place you'll find it all: in New York City’s fabulous cemeteries. In Stories in Stone New York: A Field Guide to New York City Cemeteries and Their Residents, Keister features some of the most fabulous cemeteries in New York City’s five boroughs and Westchester County. From Green-Wood cemetery in Brooklyn, which was the inspiration for Central Park, to Sleepy Hollow in the shadow of the Tappan Zee, Douglas Keister shows us that art, architecture and celebrities are literally at our feet. Also featured in Stories in Stone New York, are Manhattan resting places including a rare look at the crypts under the altar at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, the architectural wonderland at Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx (poetically the LAST stop on the #4 subway) and The Hartsdale Pet Cemetery, America’s first pet cemetery. And of course, there’s Grant’s Tomb, Trinity Churchyard and fabulous views of Manhattan from Calvary Cemetery in Queens. Who knew death could be so much fun? Douglas Keister has authored and co-authored thirty-nine books. He has spoken at venues throughout the United States including the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D. C. and the Cooper Union in New York City. SUNSET magazine said, “Keister has done for cemetery exploration what Audubon did for birding.” In October 2010, Keister was featured on a segment of CBS SUNDAY MORNING. Correspondent Rita Braver called him “America’s chief tombstone tourist.”
Douglas gives an overview of the book:
New York. The Big Apple. The city that never sleeps. The Naked City. Grand Central City. Gotham. Millions of people call New York City home. For millions more, it’s their permanent home. Each year, some 60,000 New Yorkers reach the end of their personal line. Death. It’s the price we pay for life. No one escapes. Now what? About a quarter of expired New Yorkers are cremated. The rest wind up in mausoleums or in the ground.
When New Amsterdam was founded, most of the dead were buried in churchyards that surrounded the early churches. These churchyards, known as God’s Acres, also served as mini-parks. They were often used as gathering places for farmers markets and social activities. But as the city expanded, the wee churchyards rapidly filled up. There was a certain tyranny of the dead: they had much of the good property and they weren’t selling or moving. Responding to a looming burial crunch, a group of forward-looking citizens formed a committee that established Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn as a vast landscaped burial ground. At the time, Green-Wood was called a rural cemetery since it was located out of town. Other communities followed suit and, one after another, large rural cemeteries were developed in outlying areas. As the decades ticked on, the rural cemeteries as well as the smaller graveyards and churchyards were gradually surrounded by the burgeoning metropolis. Today, these cemeteries are oases of tranquility—a buffer of the bucolic contrasting against the cold steel and stone.
There are hundreds of cemeteries in the five New York City boroughs of Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. Stories in Stone New York also contains a selection of cemeteries in Westchester County, where New Yorkers started opting for burial sites at the beginning of the twentieth century. A cemetery complex was developed in an area that spanned the communities of Hawthorne and Valhalla. It was made easily accessible by a special funeral train. Westchester County also contains Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.
Stories in Stone New York is by no means comprehensive. It does, however, cover some of the most historic and tourist-friendly cemeteries, from the petite to the magnificent, and encourages you to go out and discover others on your own. The guide to cemetery symbolism applies to almost all the cemeteries as does the guide to secret societies. It has often been said that you only have one chance to make a first impression. Conversely, you only have one chance to make a last impression. Explore the book's pages and you’ll find some grand, stylish, simple, and thought-provoking last impressions.
Photographer-writer Douglas Keister, has authored and co-authored thirty-nine critically acclaimed books. He also writes and illustrates magazine articles and contributes photographs and essays to dozens of magazines, newspapers, books, calendars, posters and greeting cards...
Keister has done for cemetery exploration what Audubon did for birding.