Day of the Dead Wreath Ceremony Will Honor Thousands Buried Beneath Washington Square Park

James Jackson Headstone from 1799 Discovered WSP

On the heels of WSP Blog’s recent report of the city Parks Department’s plans to “reinter human remains” unearthed during construction back into Washington Square Park*, now we have this fitting event coming up. It seems the issue of acknowledging the park’s dead is in the zeitgeist … after being ignored for so long. After all, the park was at one time a potter’s field; it is believed up to 20,000 bodies are buried underneath it. We only recently learned that some of the skeletons and bones were disturbed – after years of Parks Department statements saying this was not the case – and are scheduled to be returned after consultation with the Landmarks Preservation Commission. (More to come on this.) The above photo is of the intact tombstone of James Jackson dug up during Phase II redesign construction in October 2009.

An organization called “Boroughs of the Dead” will “honor the deceased” of Washington Square Park by laying commemorative wreaths on “Day of the Dead” Thursday, November 1st, 6 p.m. Meet by the fountain.

Day of the Dead: Wreath Ceremony

On the Day of the Dead (November 1st), Boroughs of the Dead will honor the deceased who lie buried in one of the city’s former potter’s fields. Boroughs of the Dead guides will lay a commemorative wreath in Washington Square Park that is the site of a former potter’s field, where the poor, disenfranchised, and diseased were laid to rest. Each wreath will have a small (waterproof) information tag attached to it so anyone passing the wreaths can find out more information about the potter’s field.

Meet us by the fountain in the center of the park. Arrive by 6pm to follow the procession to the wreath-laying site.

Event runs rain or shine, except in the event of extremely inclement weather, in which case the rain date is scheduled for Nov. 2nd. Guests will be notified in the event of a weather related cancellation.

Event info via
See additional Borough of the Dead events here.

*More on this story to come… (Ed. note: I know, it’s been delayed.)

Previously at Washington Square Park Blog:

“Human Remains” Unearthed During Washington Square Construction Will be Returned, Reinterred in Park August 28, 2018

Should Washington Square Park Identify 20,000 Dead Bodies Beneath it?
(More on the lack of signage here too)

More on Tombstone Discovery At Washington Square Park Which Could Date Back to 18th Century — Update: Confirmed! October 26, 2009

The Skeletons of Washington Square Park November 2, 2015

Second 19th Century Burial Vault, Coffins & Bones Discovered Under Washington Square Park November 6, 2015

Photo: NYC Parks

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