Prospect Cemetery, Queens, NY

The picture below is of Prospect Cemetery in Jamaica, Queens. It’s not the greatest shot because I took it from a moving train in the rain. The cemetery is actually a lot prettier than this. I wrote about Prospect Cemetery in Waiting For My Cats to Die. The cemetery had been abandoned and forgotten for decades until …

“A local animal rights activist named Amy Anderson found it again in 1988 while rescuing an abandoned litter of puppies. It was already so overgrown with weeds and wildflowers that she didn’t even know at first she was even in a cemetery. Amy wrote down some of the names on the gravestones, picked up a phonebook, and starting calling people with the same last names at random. This led to Cate Ludlam, who may or may not be a descendant of someone buried there — she’s never actually checked — and now Cate pulls the weeds for dead people no one thinks about except people like me. I’ve been passing Prospect Cemetery on the Long Island Railroad for decades. I couldn’t see the graves until the Cate started weeding roughly ten years ago. Once I could, whenever my train went by it I’d daydream that Prospect Cemetery was my “Willoughby” and I always swore I’d get off someday and go there …

Not long after I do. I meet Cate who …

” … takes me into the Chapel of the Sisters which stands just inside the main gate. Built from fieldstone, sandstone, and black walnut in 1857 by her possible ancestor, Nicholas Ludlum, for his three dead daughters, Mary Cecelia, Cornelia Maria, and Mary, it hasn’t been used since 1936. The chapel consists of a small room, but the ceilings are at least 30 feet high. I dodge swooping pigeons, who come in through holes in the roof and breaks in the stained glass, and notice that the word “incorruptible” still appears in embossed gold lettering on the now gray walls. I walk from wall to wall, avoiding spiderwebs and brushing away feathers that cover the floor to read the names and dates of birth and death of the sisters, who only lived to 1, 13, and 21 years old …

“I pick up a few sordid facts about Prospect’s past. In 1954, the skull of 14-year-old Alice Josephine Smith was taken from the grave she had been buried in 90 years before. Her skull is still missing to this day … The body of a three-year-old boy murdered by his mother was found during a brief cleanup in 1989.”

Cate is much further along now! The Chapel has been completely restored and there’s a Prospect Cemetery website with the complete history and a registry of the people buried there (over 1,000). I wish I could find my “before” pictures. The Chapel was completely dilapidated and in ruins, but the website has pictures of how it looks today.

Prospect Cemetery, Queens, NY

Hello President Obama!

The president is in town. There were massive delays on the subways, traffic jams too, I’m sure. I took the picture below on my way to the library this morning. I asked a cop, “Is this for a parade?” “No, Obama.” “When is he going to come by?” “Between 4 and 10. They don’t tell us anything more than that.” “Okay, well, I’ll wait right here then.”

Barricades in Place for Obama Visit

Please Stop Making Climate Change a Political Issue

Storms Threaten Ozone Layer Over U.S., Study Says. From the article: “Strong summer thunderstorms that pump water high into the upper atmosphere pose a threat to the protective ozone layer over the United States, researchers said on Thursday, drawing one of the first links between climate change and ozone loss over populated areas.”

I was on the roof last night talking with some of my neighbors and we were saying how some of the storms lately have been downright scary. But they are beautiful and magnificent. So as we’re dying we’ll be going, “Wow, look at that!”

Roof in New York City

New York City’s East Side, I’m Coming Back … Eventually

Probably not until the fall. Last month I tried to walk up the east side along the East River, but it’s not like the west side. There are sections where you just can’t walk along the river, and you have to keep taking detours and coming back. I stopped at 57th Street and I keep meaning to go back and pick up where I left off.

A blog to explore: Quigley’s Cabinet. From her bio. “Chris Quigley has been reviewing morbid books since receiving an MA in 2007 from Georgetown University, where she has worked since 1986. As of June 2009, she is on long-term disability leave. She delivered the keynote address at the first Museum of Funeral Customs symposium (Springfield, Illinois), consulted with the producers of the National Geographic Channel’s Mummy Road Show, and authored 6 morbid books of her own – Death Dictionary, The Corpse, Modern Mummies, Skulls and Skeletons, Conjoined Twins, and Dissection on Display – all published by McFarland & Co.”

The Empire State Building from the east side. I’m mad that the red sign is so soft and blurry. Oh well.

Empire State Building

Larry Racioppo Photography

I so envy Larry Racioppo. He’s a Department of Housing Preservation and Development staff photographer and I met him during the recovery effort down at the World Trade Center. I love his photographs, and I love where his job takes him. SO JEALOUS.

But he’s an incredibly talented photographer and he has a website now. (I also have a permanent link to it on the right.)

This is a picture he took of the inside of the old spook house at Coney Island. Don’t you wish you could be him, too?

Spook House, Coney Island