No Vacancy: NYC Cemeteries Filling To Capacity

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.

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  • djphoenix

    Why not consider burying more than one body in a plot? The plots can be dug deep enough to accommodate 2, 3, 5, or even 6 caskets. The only reason this is not done is due to inability of the cemetery owners to think outside the box (no pun intended).
    In Durango, Colorado, I believe 8 bodies are buried in the same plot.
    It is time to think creatively.

    • New York Wannabe

      Bodies are buried at 6 feet because it is deep enough to keep animals from digging up the remains & not any lower because the corpses can contaminate the underground water table.

  • sheldon archer

    What an absolutely stupid thing to do…stick dead people in a box and bury them. What are we going to do in the future when billions of people die. There will be no farmland, just cemeteries. Just burn everyone and forget it. When you are dead you are dead and gone

  • UrLame

    This is just a ripoff of the article in the New York times last weekend. Pathetic. Think of something original or give them credit.

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