Manhattan's former burial grounds that are now parks

Have you ever noticed that you don't see many cemeteries in Manhattan? There are a few historic ones, such as the one adjacent to Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan. But most of them have been turned into parks.

During the colonial era, the city of New York was confined to the area below what is now City Hall. As people moved north, old burial grounds became prime acreage. City officials either moved the graves or put a park right on top of them.

Archaeological excavations in City Hall Park uncovered old graves there. A plaque near the statue of Horace Greeley commemorates those buried there. Madison Square Park was also a former burial ground in the late 1700s. During that time, anyone who died at the hospital at nearby Bellevue Farm, today's Bellevue Hospital, was buried there.

Today Bryant Park is a popular place to grab a bite to eat or lounge in the sun but in the mid-1800s it was the final resting place for paupers, too poor to be buried anywhere else.

What is now Washington Square Park used to be one of the city's largest burial grounds. During an outbreak of yellow fever in the 1700s, thousands of people were buried here. It is believed that about 20,000 are still resting just a few feet below.

Parks of Central Park were a very well-known burial ground until construction began on the park in the 1850s. Some of the graves were removed to cemeteries in the outer boroughs, but many still remain.