Friday, December 23, 2016
The Irregular Guide to New York City Entry #2: The Land of the Dead (and Parrots)
(Above: The Cemetery Gates)
As soon as you pass through the gothic gates of Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, you will find yourself in the land of the dead. For almost two hundred years, this is where many of New York’s most famous (and infamous) citizens have been buried. Take one of the paths that snake through the 478 acres of woods and valleys and you’ll see bizarre marble tombs perched atop knolls, forbidding mausoleums built into the hills, and countless ghoulish monuments to the dead. You might even spot the entrances to Green-Wood’s underground catacombs if you know where to look. The cemetery is lovely, peaceful, and delightfully creepy. But few people seem eager to spend time with the dead. In fact, if you visit during the week, you probably won’t see another living soul.
What you will see, however, are large flocks of parrots. Smart, squawking emerald-green monk parakeets. Decades ago, a few of the Argentinean natives managed to escape from a container at JFK airport. Hundreds of their descendants now call Brooklyn home—and many of them live in Green-Wood Cemetery.