Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Moore-Jackson Cemetery + Athens Square Park

One of the older cemeteries in New York City sits in a crowded section of Woodside, Queens.
The Moore-Jackson Cemetery was first established a little before 1733 on the farmland of Samuel Moore. Samuel was the son of the first reverend of Newtown, Long Island, John Moore, whose family settled the area in 1652. It is thought that Newtown Pippen apples originated from this farm.
While the cemetery's address is "officially" between 31-30 to 31-36 on 54th Street (as the grave markers are visible from there), the entrance is on 51st Street.
One can walk through the graveyard, to view - up close - some of the memorials, such as the well-preserved tombstone of  Augustine Moore... well as other headstones that haven't stood the test of time very well.

The vacant farmhouse was dismantled in 1901, and during excavations in 1919, it was discovered that the grave site held a total of 42 burials, with surnames including: Jackson, Hallet, Rapelye, Fish, Berrian, and Mecke.
The Works Progress Administration reburied the remains, along with arranging the remaining gravestones in 1936. The area was finally acknowledged as a New York City landmark in 1997, and is now managed by the Queens Historical Society.
If you are still looking for something somewhat nearby, check out Athens Square Park, which is on 30th Avenue, between 29th and 30th Street. The 30-minute walk will certainly let one take in the breadth and compass of Queens.
Named for the modern capitol of Greece, due to the sizable Greek-American population in Astoria, the park first opened as a simple playground in 1967, after it was acquired as public land in 1963. Reconstruction began in 1990, thanks to a one-million dollar restoration project; adding a central court, an small amphitheater, recreational space, plus seating areas along the perimeter, and sculptures throughout the park. In 1993, the first of many bronze statues was unveiled (of philosopher Socrates, and designed by artist Anthony Frudakis). Many of the following icons were donated by mayors of Athens, as well as other cities throughout Greece.

In 1996, three fluted Doric columns of granite, as well as a curved entablature atop, were built to echo the Tholos of Athena Pronaia in Delphi.
Every summer, the park holds a number of Hellenic-themed festivals, not to mention concerts of Greek music, old and new.