2006_06_cemetery.jpgThis is what a hot real estate market has wrought: One of the city's oldest Jewish cemeteries has had construction debris fall onto dozens of tombstones in Chelsea. Congregation Shearith Israel built three cemeteries in Manhattan, and the Chelsea location, at 21st Street between 6th and 7th Avenues, was in use in 1828-1851 (one is at 55 St. James Place and another is at 76 West 11th Street). It seems like mortar from The O'Neill Building, which faces 6th Avenue between 20th and 21st Streets, fell in the cemetery, and experts have been called in to see how it can be carefully removed. The O'Neill's developer, Elad Properties (which is also renovating the Plaza Hotel) was told by the landmarks commission that it would need to "bear responsbility" of the cleaning and repair tombstones. Elad is working with the congregation to "monitor" the situation; the NY Times reports that protective scaffolding was set up to "cover the tombstones closest" to the O'Neill building. [Another interesting thing: The congregation agreed not to build anything in the cemetery that would block O'Neill residents views.]

Congregation Shearith Israel has a beautiful building on Central Park West at 70th Street; it is "The Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue." Read this description from The City Review.

Photograph from Forgotten NY's Hidden Cemeteries section