Why do I always post about graves and whatnot -- I'm really quite cheery
December 13, 2008 9:58 AM   Subscribe

UrbEx: Bayside Acacia Cemetery, Queens. Most of this Jewish cemetery, which in the first half of the twentieth century housed many beautiful monuments [pdf] and large family mausoleums, is now in a frankly archaeological state of disrepair, as its congregation cannot afford to provide complete maintenance.

I for one don't feel like blaming them; check the outlay figures in this plan.

baysidecemetery.com is a site about a documentary, "Ashes to Ashes," about the restoration of Acacia Cemetery (or some part of it) by helpful Mormons. I am unaccountably creeped out by this.
posted by Countess Elena (12 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
posted by mwhybark at 10:17 AM on December 13, 2008

It's in Ozone Park, not Bayside. Confusing!
posted by Casuistry at 10:42 AM on December 13, 2008

well I can understand that the community would desire to maintain and repair their cemetery, it has a certain gothic beauty in its disrepair that strongly makes me want to go visit.
posted by supermedusa at 10:53 AM on December 13, 2008

but it has
posted by supermedusa at 10:53 AM on December 13, 2008

Someone should use this place as a location for the BEST HORROR MOVIE EVER, and then use the proceeds to fix the place up.

(seriously, that would be one SCARY flick)
posted by Afroblanco at 11:07 AM on December 13, 2008

Enough with the vainglorious restorations, dust to dust and all that. I must get out there soon before the ruins are ruined.

This reminds me of the Appian Way outside of Rome, not the catacombs and the romantic half standing buildings, but the overgrown old grave markers where the busted off pieces are still lying in the weeds where they landed.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:26 AM on December 13, 2008

On a first reading I thought the guy who made the documentary was a Mormon and I thought he sounded like a douchebag (particularly because I am one too (Mormon, not a douchebag)). Then I read the NYT link and realized his grandmother is buried there. So, not Mormon then, but he still comes off sounding like a schmuck on his website.
posted by ericales at 11:33 AM on December 13, 2008

My thoughts . . . meh. It's always sad when cemeteries go unattended and the resting places of loved ones forgotten . . . but to my mind, it's a responsibility of the survivors to tend to the upkeep if nothing else is possible.

This summer I saw Jewish cemeteries in Hungary, Romania and Ukraine, all of which were in much, much worse condition than the one above - and many with graves going back hundreds of years earlier than any of the graves here. In fact, the best-kept spots in most of these cemeteries were in much worse condition than the worst of the pictures in the post above. There were areas of these cemeteries so overgrown that I had to use a flashlight in the middle of a sunny, 80-degree day to find my way around - literally, the darkest outdoor places I've ever been to in daylight hours. Graveside synagogues with trees growing through what used to be the roofs, entire sections impenetrable without an axe . . . and in most places, not a single Jew left who could tend to these sites anywhere nearby. (And in other cases, only one or two surviving and very elderly Jews.) Talk about the heartbreak of seeing the remnant of an almost entirely lost culture . . .

In Chernowitz (Ukraine), I saw a group of Ukrainian kids volunteering their time to clean up a section of the (gigantic) Jewish cemetery there. They wouldn't have been able to clean up more than a tiny fraction - maybe 1% - of the place, but given the more or less complete elimination of the Jewish population for decades and the historical indifference shown the Jews by Ukrainians, it was touching.

I'll try to set up a link to phots I took in the projects section later.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:35 AM on December 13, 2008 [4 favorites]

Thanks for the link. I'm one of two people that took those photos and posted them there. It's curious how many people's first impression is "they really should clean that place up!"
posted by Rhodamine at 4:37 PM on December 13, 2008

I used to take my synagogue teen group to trim the vines and clean up a section of this cemetery right around Halloween every year. Then one year we all got horrible poison ivy, so I haven't been back in a while.

It really is a hauntingly beautiful place.
posted by ericbop at 6:30 PM on December 13, 2008

I think there's something intrinsically beautiful about cemeteries. Then again, I am one of the most morbid people alive. Yet, I'm also inordinately cheerful. I'm like a bleak little ball of sunshine.

This is a hauntingly wonderful post. Thanks!
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:12 AM on December 14, 2008

ericbop: were trying to organize a small group to do some cleanup in there again... let me know if youd be interested.
posted by Rhodamine at 3:18 PM on December 14, 2008

« Older Gained in Translation?   |   I made you a beard. Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments