Monday, October 15, 2012
Isn’t this a beautiful scene? I took it awhile back, a lovely woman playing classical music in Washington Square Park. So peaceful; or is it? Beneath this idyllic setting lie 20,000 bodies.
The area that would become Washington Square was originally used as a potter’s field for the yellow fever epidemic. Between 1797 and 1826, if you were poor, you were probably buried here. Whenever they do renovations at the park they usually come across a few bones. In 1965, when Con Ed was running lines, they found a set of stairs that lead to a crypt with 29 bodies- they left them there. That's the official policy, finish your work and put the bones back where you found them.
I’m reading about this in the park and my first reaction, after saying “eeek!”in a high pitched squeal, is to re-enact the Poltergeist scene, grab the piano playing woman by the lapels and scream, “They just moved the head stones! They didn’t move the bodies!” But that wouldn’t be entirely true and probably considered assault. There are no headstones- if you could afford a headstone you probably didn’t have to be chucked into an open pit. Unless you’re James Jackson, an Irishman (of course). Recently they came across his head stone buried 2 1/2 feet down.
James Jackson From Kildare Ireland died 1799. They found his headstone buried 2 1/2 feet down. Leave it to an Irishman to bring an expensive headstone to a pauper’s grave.