Wednesday, July 15, 2009

100,000 people buried under Washington Square Park in NYC

Washington Square Park in New York City.

Washington Square Park is built on what was once Potter’s Field. A potter’s field is a term refers to a place where unknown or indigent people are buried.

From consultant to the Oxford English Dictionary, Barry Popik’s The Big Apple Website:

Laborers Find Human Remains of 1800's in Washington Sq.

"Lieutenant William Burns gravely investigated. He learned that the present common was a Potter's Fields from 1797 to 1823. More than 100,000 yellow fever victims were buried there; that Rose Butler, a young, serving woman, was hanged and buried there in July, 1819, either for murder or robbery."

6 May 1953, New York Times, "About New York" by Meyer Berger, pg. 33:

"Most of the new properties look right over the Square itself. A good part of that was the old Brevoort Farm. Six and one-half of its better than nine acres were Potter's Field from 1797 to 1823, and 10,000 New Yorkers were buried in it…."

"They were built when the Square was Potter's Field. When this section was an uncultivated tract the houses faced the city's gallows, where public executions were held. It is said the hangman of New York once lived in the corner house. The gallows lifted their gaunt head where the Washington Arch now stands. A large elm tree, which stood in the Square as late as 1799, sometimes serves as a gallows. There is little doubt but that the hangman walked from the corner house to serve at the last public execution in the Square, when Rose Butler, a negress, was hanged."

13 March 1941, New York Times, pg. 23:

Read the entire article at

No comments: