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Spanish Portuguese Cemeteries

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Spanish Portuguese Cemeteries


Basic Information

Location West 21st Street, New York, NY, United States
Country United States
City New York

General Information

Open to visitors yes
Need appointment no
Handicap accessibility no
Geographical Coordinates 40.74401,-73.99942


Three hidden away Jewish cemeteries, one tucked behind a block of condos in the middle of Manhattan; the other two further downtown, are the legacy of North America’s oldest Jewish congregation, Shearith Israel. The first, in Chinatown, is the oldest Jewish cemetery in North America and hosts the final resting places of 22 American Revolution veterans and the first American-born rabbi. The second, amongst Greenwich Village townhouses, still has twenty headstones standing. The third cemetery is just off 21st and 6th Avenue, with 250 graves (some still legible), and is perhaps the most picturesque and evocative of a bygone era.

History and time period

In 1656, the earliest Jewish cemetery in the United States, located in New Amsterdam, was founded by Shearith Israel Congregation. Its exact location is now unknown. In 1683, The Congregation purchased the "second" cemetery, which is the oldest surviving, and in turn, know as the first cemetery.

The first Cemetery (1683) is located in what is now known as Chinatown. Thanks to Harmon Goldstone, the cemetery has been granted its rightful place on the National Register of U.S. Historic Places.

The Second Cemetery is known as "New Bowery Cemetery". In 1805, burials began in what was once a much larger plot. Although the Commissioners' Plan had established the city's grid in 1811, it was not until 1830 that West 11th Street cut through the plot. This reduced the cemetery to its present, small triangular size. For this reason, the third cemetery was opened.

The plots which were disturbed in the street constructed at the second cemetery site were moved further uptown to the Third Cemetery on West 21st Street, which was in use 1829-1851. This cemetery was adjacent to the congregation's synagogue on 19th Street--built in 1860 and unfortunately long gone.


First Cemetery: 55 St. James Place, opposite Chatham Square, in use 1682-1828 Second Cemetery: 76 W. 11th, between 6th and 7th Avenue, in use 1805-1829 Third Cemetery: 21st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, in use 1829-1851 Current Cemetery: Glendale, Queens, New York

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