Calvary Cemetery (Queens, New York)

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Calvary Cemetery
LIE Calvary Cem jeh.jpg
Details
Year established 1848
Location Queens, New York City
Country USA
Coordinates 40°44′7″N 73°55′45″W / 40.73528°N 73.92917°W / 40.73528; -73.92917
Type Catholic Cemetery
Owned by The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York
Number of interments 3 million
Map of Blissville from 1873, showing Calvary Cemetery, from the Greater Astoria Historical Society.

Calvary Cemetery is a Roman Catholic cemetery in Queens, New York City, New York, United States. With about 3 million burials,[1] it has the largest number of interments of any cemetery in the United States; it is also one of the oldest cemeteries in the United States.[2] It covers 365 acres and is owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York and managed by the Trustees of St. Patrick's Cathedral.

Calvary Cemetery is divided into four sections, spread across the neighborhoods of Maspeth and Woodside. The oldest, First Calvary, is also called "Old Calvary." The Second, Third and Fourth sections are all considered part of "New Calvary."

  1. First Calvary Cemetery is located between the Long Island Expressway and Review Avenue. The cemetery's offices are located here, at 49-02 Laurel Hill Boulevard.
  2. Second Calvary Cemetery is located on the west side of 58th Street between Queens Boulevard and the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway.
  3. Third Calvary Cemetery is located on the west side of 58th Street between the Long Island Expressway and the Brooklyn–Queens Expressway.
  4. Fourth Calvary Cemetery is located on the west side of 58th Street between the Long Island Expressway and 55th Avenue.

History and description[edit]

A view of the cemetery showing Manhattan skyline in the background.

In 1817, the Trustees of Old St. Patrick's Cathedral on Mott Street realized that their original cemetery on Mulberry Street was almost full.

In 1847, faced with cholera epidemics and a shortage of burial grounds in Manhattan, the New York State Legislature passed the Rural Cemetery Act authorizing nonprofit corporations to operate commercial cemeteries. On October 29, 1845 Old St. Patrick's Cathedral trustees had purchased 71 acres of land from John McMenoy and John McNolte in Maspeth and this land was used to develop Calvary Cemetery. The cemetery was consecrated by Archbishop John Hughes in August 1848.

The cemetery was named after Mount Calvary, where Jesus Christ was crucified according to the New Testament.

Calvary was accessible by ferryboat from 23rd Street and the East River. It cost an adult seven dollars to be buried there. Burial of children under age seven cost three dollars; children aged seven to fourteen cost five dollars. As development in the East Village expanded, bodies buried in that neighborhood were transferred to Queens. In 1854, ferry service opened by 10th Street and the East River.

The first Calvary Cemetery burial in occurred on July 31, 1848. The name of the deceased was Esther Ennis, having reportedly “died of a broken heart.” By 1852 there were 50 burials a day, half of them poor Irish under seven years of age. In the early 20th century, influenza and tuberculosis epidemics caused a shortage of gravediggers, and people dug graves for their own loved ones.[3] The entire number of interments from the cemetery's opening in August 1848 until January 1898, was 644,761. From January 1898 until 1907 there were about 200,000 interments, thus yielding roughly 850,000 interments at Calvary Cemetery by 1907.[4]

The original division of the cemetery, now known as First Calvary or Old Calvary, was filled by 1867. The Archdiocese of New York expanded the area of the cemetery, adding more sections, and by the 1990s there were nearly 3 million burials in Calvary Cemetery. The cemetery was used in the film The Godfather for the funeral of Don Corleone and the Ben Stiller comedy, Zoolander. Now the Cemetery only accepts immediate interments; plots cannot be purchased in advance.

The chapel was designed by Raymond F. Almirall.[5]

Calvary Monument[edit]

The Calvary Monument is located in a city-owned park, Calvary Veterans Park which is wholly contained within the cemetery.[6] The monument honors the 69th Regiment.

statue of Union soldier
69th Regiment monument

There is no signage from the main entrance directing one to the monument which is located at 40°43′51″N 73°55′47″W / 40.7308°N 73.9297°W / 40.7308; -73.9297.

Notable burials[edit]

Athletes[edit]

Entertainers[edit]

  • Nancy Carroll (1903–1965), actress - 3rd, Section 35, range 10, lot Q, grave 14/15
  • Tess Gardella (1894–1950), actress who played Aunt Jemima - 1st, Section 56, range 129, grave 18
  • Patrick Gilmore (1829–1882), "Father of the American Band" - 1st, Section 10, plot 15
  • Texas Guinan (1884–1933), actress and saloon-keeper - 1st, Section 47, plot F
  • Robert Harron (1893–1920), actor
  • James Hayden (1953–1983), actor
  • Joseph E. Howard (1878–1961), American composer ("Emerson and Howard")
  • Patsy Kelly (1910–1981), actress - 4th, Section 66, plot 40, grave 7
  • James Murray (1901–1936), actor - 3rd, Section 21, range 6, plot 4
  • Nita Naldi (1897–1961), actress - 1st, Section 1W, range 5AA, plot 13/14, grave 5
  • Arthur O'Connell (1908–1981), actor - 3rd, Section 34, row 7, range Q, plot 10/11
  • Una O'Connor (1880–1959), actress - 4th, Section 70, plot 46, grave 16
  • William J. Scanlan (1856–1898), singer
  • Wini Shaw (1907–1982), actress - 3rd, Section 33, range 1F, grave 34
  • Joe Spinell (1936–1989), actor - 1st, Section 51, lot 106-61
  • Bert Wheeler (1895–1968), comedian - 1st, Section 47, plot 46, grave 29, Catholic Actors Guild lot

Law enforcement professionals[edit]

  • Joseph Petrosino (1860–1909), NYPD's first Italian-American detective; founded the Italian Squad; subject of the film Pay or Die - 3rd, Section 22, range 9, plot K, graves 17/18
  • Hubert J. Treacy, Jr. (1913–1942), FBI Special Agent killed in the line of duty on March 13, 1942, in Abingdon, VA

Military figures[edit]

Organized crime figures[edit]

Politicians[edit]

Writers[edit]

Others[edit]

  • Steve Brodie (1863–1901), Brooklyn bookmaker, claimed to survive Brooklyn Bridge jump - 1st, Section 9, plot 443, grave 13/16
  • Julia Grant (1973–1944), philanthropist
  • Edward McGlynn (1837–1900), reformist Catholic priest
  • Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862–1947), portrait artist
  • Sarah Rabassa (1928–2006), worked in belt factories for 20 cents an hour, in the garment center of New York
  • Hubert J. Treacy, Sr. (1877–1938), NYC Fire Dept. Chief of the Bureau of Repairs and Supplies, 1919-1938
  • Annie Moore Schayer (1874-1924), first person to be processed through Ellis Island - 3rd, Section 20, range 3, plot F, grave 13
  • Seven brothers of the Saint Peter's Benevolent Society from Croatia (who at the time lived in New York) before it was possible to transport the deceased overseas.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.nymoon.com/pubs/undertone/dead/
  2. ^ Interment.net
  3. ^ "The Cemetery Belt", Newsday article by Rhona Amon. (Original URL broken, but mirrored at Juniper Park Civic Association)
  4. ^ The journal of the American Irish Historical Society, Volume 7 (1907)
  5. ^ Most Remarkable Mortuary Chapel in America
  6. ^ "Calvary Monument". New York City Department of Parks. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f Dash, Mike (2009). The First Family: Terror, Extortion and the Birth of the American Mafia. London: Simon & Schuster. p. Epilogue, page 27. ISBN 978-1-84737-173-7. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°44′07″N 73°55′05″W / 40.73528°N 73.91806°W / 40.73528; -73.91806