A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 04, 2013
Borough of Cemeteries (Borough of the Dead)

The boroughs of both Brooklyn and Queens are known for their cemeteries. The writer Irwin Shaw (1913-1984) wrote in the short story, “Borough of Cemeteries,” in The New Yorker, August 13, 1938:

“‘Brooklyn stinks,’ said another driver, down the bar. ‘The borough of cemeteries. This is a first class place for graveyards.’”

Queens was called the “Borough of Cemeteries” in the New York (NY) Times in April 1936. Queens has been called the “Borough of the Dead” since at least 1956.

The term “Borough of Cemeteries” is now used less than “Borough of the Dead,” and the latter term is almost always used to describe Queens.


Wikipedia: Category:Cemeteries in Brooklyn
Cemetery of the Evergreens
Cypress Hills Cemetery, Brooklyn
Cypress Hills National Cemetery
Green-Wood Cemetery
Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn
Old Gravesend Cemetery
Salem Fields Cemetery, Brooklyn
Washington Cemetery

Wikipedia: Category:Cemeteries in Queens
Bayside Acacia Cemetery, Queens
Calvary Cemetery (Queens, New York)
Cedar Grove Cemetery (Queens, New York)
Cemetery of the Evergreens
Cornell Family Cemetery
Flushing Cemetery
Lent Homestead and Cemetery
Machpelah Cemetery (Queens, New York)
Maple Grove Cemetery (Kew Gardens, New York)
Montefiore Cemetery
Mount Hebron Cemetery (New York City)
Mount Zion Cemetery (New York City)
Prospect Cemetery (Jamaica, New York)
St. John Cemetery, Queens, New York
Wyckoff-Snediker Family Cemetery

Boroughs of the Dead
What is a “borough of the dead?”
Every borough in New York City has its own special nickname: Brooklyn, for instance, is the Borough of Churches, for its preponderance of houses of worship… and Queens is the called the Borough of the Dead because so much of its surface area is given over to cemeteries. It’s a wonderfully creepy sobriquet.

22 April 1936, New York (NY) Times, “5 Borough Chiefs Hold Frank Forum”:
He spoke, almost with tears, of the way the borough of finance (...) the borough of cemeteries (Queens) and the of universities (the Bronx).

The New Yorker
FICTION
BOROUGH OF CEMETERIES
BY IRWIN SHAW
AUGUST 13, 1938

Google Books
Sailor off the Bremen, and other stories
By Irwin Shaw
New York, NY: Random House
1939
Pg. 281 ("Borough of Cemeteries"):
“Brooklyn stinks,” said another driver, down the bar. “The borough of cemeteries. This is a first class place for graveyards.”

2 October 1941, State-Times (Baton Rouge, LA), “Brooklyn defeat today would pave way for Yanks to sweep World Series in four games” by Martin Kane (UP), pg. 13, col. 2:
The borough of cemeteries may have been whistling past a graveyard as far as the Dodger players were concerned but it is certainly true that Yankee stadium has a subduing effect on the Dodger rooters.

Google Books
The Last Angry Man:
A Novel

By Gerald Green
New York, NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons
1956
Pg. 274:
In Queens, the borough of the dead, there were already two thousand unburied stiffs!

10 May 1970, New York (NY) Times “Young Manhattanite Finds Happiness in Woodside” by Franklin Todd, pg. 286:
One of my wife s colleagues ridiculed Queens as “the borough of cemeteries.”

Google Books
Da-show Must Go on:
Six Plays About Love, Death and Bad Acting

By Ken Dashow
New York, NY: Dramatists Play Service
1996
Pg. 55:
ARTIE. The beautiful borough of Queens. They should call it the borough of the dead.

Google Books
The Sights Along the Harbor:
New and Collected Poems

By Harvey Shapiro
Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press
2006
Pg. 5:
BUS RIDE
And now the bus, on an elevated highway,
rises above Queens, that borough of the dead.

Google Books
The New York Stories of Elizabeth Hardwick
By Elizabeth Hardwick
New York, NY: The New York Review of Books
2009
Pg. ?:
Not the heart to imagine the bright closet of turtleneck jerseys and zippered jackets he may be wearing out there in Queens, known as the borough of cemeteries.
(From a 1981 story—ed.)

Google Books
No Lesser Plea
By Robert K. Tanenbaum
New York, NY: Open Road Integrated Media
2010
Pg. ?:
They buried him on a sunny Saturday in June in Queens, the Borough of the Dead and the Might As Well Be, as they say in Manhattan.

Observe the Random
05.27.2012
Borough of the Dead
Sixth annual “NYC Zombie Crawl” in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityNeighborhoods • Thursday, April 04, 2013 • Permalink