Jan 13, 2009 10:45 AM | 3
The victims of the Brooklyn Bridge Disaster in 1883 mentioned in Leslie's last post had been celebrating "Decoration Day," the holiday we now call Memorial Day. At a time when the dead of the Civil War lived on in memory, people would visit the borough's cemeteries to lay flowers upon the graves of their loved ones. Decoration Day at Cypress Hills is the subject of more than one print in our collection of illustrations from the 19th century magazines.
While Green-wood Cemetery has received considerable media attention over recent years in part thanks to the work of its energetic historian, Jeff Richman, the Cemetery of the Evergreens has been overshadowed by its South Brooklyn competitor. The Evergreens has now found a worthy chronicler in the person of John Rousmaniere, whose beautiful new book, Green Oasis in Brooklyn. The Evergreens Cemetery 1849-2008 with photographs by Ken Druse, has arrived unsollicited on my desk (Kittery Point, Maine: Seapoint Books, 2008).
Rousmaniere begins with a lively account of the events of 1776 on the "Heights of Guana" in the area now covered by the Evergreens. Engaging writing that ranges through swaths of Brooklyn and world history, coupled with Druse's beautiful photographs make this a valuable and attractive addition to our collection. Perhaps now the Evergreens will become a destination as popular as Green-wood, we trust with less unhappy results than on that fatal day in 1883.
Channel Thirteen is currently producing an original online video series about hidden and hard-to-access historic places. A new segment on Green-Wood shows interior shots of the catacombs and some of the mausoleums. Here is the link:
As the owner of an unsaleable condominium just a couple of blocks from Green-wood, I find Richman's notion of the catacombs as a condo building for the dead particularly appealing. Perhaps this is a business model I should look into.