200 Years Ago, NYC’s Union Square Was A Burial Ground For Indigents
Today, Union Square is one of the busiest places in New York City, filled with big box retailers, restaurants, and NYU dormitories.
But almost 200 years ago, it was still rural, far north of what was then the center of the city in lower Manhattan.
According to the book, the scene was painted from memory by Albertis Del Orient Browere in 1885, and gives a glimpse of what life was like at the intersection of Broadway and the Bowery before development began.
It would still be another 20 years from the time depicted in the painting before the area started to transform into the bustling city center we know today.
In 1828, Union Place would have been considered “Uptown” for many New Yorkers, and was a burial ground for indigent people. The painting by Browere, though from memory, shows why wealthier residents would have been attracted to purchasing land in these pastoral surroundings, thus sparking the Northern migration in NYC.