Forty Years Landmarked!


This 1896 lantern slide might be the oldest known image of the Gravesend Cemetery. The view is looking northeast toward the Samuel Hubbard House (hidden behind the trees) at 2338 Gravesend (now McDonald) Avenue. {Collection of Joseph Ditta}

Today marks the fortieth anniversary of the designation of the Gravesend and Van Sicklen Family Cemeteries as official New York City landmarks! Click here to read the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s designation report from March 23, 1976.

The Gravesend Cemetery, established as early as 1650, is the oldest surviving burial ground in New York City. It remained in sporadic use as late as 1968. The adjacent Van Sicklen Family Cemetery received its first burial in 1842, and its last in 1992. My current guesstimate counts 84 interments in the Van Sicklen Cemetery, and somewhere in the ballpark of 1,300 in the Gravesend Cemetery proper. Only about 600 graves are marked.

I am actively collecting information about the people buried in the two cemeteries, and am happy to share what I can if I’ve found something on your particular ancestor. And if you have documentation on any person buried here, please send it my way, along with any stories you might have heard or read about the graveyards, EXCEPT for those impossible-to-quash rumors of tunnels connecting it to various places in Gravesend. Unless, of course, you’ve got proof. And no, sorry, but your grandmother insisting there’s a tunnel does not count as proof. If you’ve got video of her emerging from a hole in the ground, then we’ll talk!

Copyright © 2016 by Joseph Ditta (



Filed under Gravesend Cemetery, Van Sicklen Cemetery

4 responses to “Forty Years Landmarked!

  1. janice dougherty

    If and when there is a plaque for Lady Moody’s house, I think an inclusive tour might be in order, put me on the listC!

  2. Speaking of this cemetery, I’ve noticed someone in there working in the soil. Maybe planting flowers? And later when I went back to check I saw those areas in the cemetery with sticks acting as a border around the soil. Do you know what is going on?

    • Very good question! I noticed the same thing; there are little sticks in the ground near the tool shed. I’m guessing they’re marking plantings of some kind.

      • Those little sticks are all over the grounds. You can see a lot more of them on Village Road South. I did see a woman in there months ago. I wondered how she got in.

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