BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CBS 2) — Despite the high price of real estate at Manhattan cemeteries, the city is running out of space to bury the departed – fast.
Every year on her wedding anniversary, Larisa Zalthman travels from Brighton Beach to Washington Cemetery in Brooklyn to clean up the headstones of her four family members resting there: Her mother, her father, her grandmother and her husband.
But she worries that when her time comes, her daughter will not be able to do the same, because there’s no room for Larisa to join her loved ones there.
Washington Cemetery is the largest Jewish cemetery in Brooklyn, with more than 160,000 mostly Russian Jews interred. But the cemetery is completely full.
“We have no graves available at all,” said Dominick Tarantino, the cemetery’s manager. “We’ve closed up all the roads…Now they have to park outside to come in and visit because there are no roads.”
Even the front yard of the original building is now jam-packed with graves, some of which are only inches apart.
In fact, space is at such a premium that the cemetery is tryng to buy a small parcel of land right next to it, along with a small house with an asking price of $1.4 million.
The purchases would make room for more than 300 new burial plots, selling at over $12,000 a piece. With 60,000 New Yorkers dying each year, plots all over the city are in high demand – and going fast.
Green-Wood cemetery, also in Brooklyn, expects to be full within five years.
So far, New York hasn’t opted to evict older tenants, although it did pass a law a few years ago allowing cemeteries to reclaim empty plots that haven’t been used for 75 years.
But for those who want to someday be buried with their families, the future is bleak.
More and more New Yorkers are solving the space problem by being cremated, with 25 percent of people in the city now opting for cremation, up from 10 percent just a decade ago.