Beautifully landscaped lawns are hard to come by in the East Village, so it's no surprise that a lot full of flowering hibiscus and peach trees between Second Avenue and the Bowery has become a popular location for events like weddings and fashion photo shoots. But what is surprising is that the lot is actually a cemetery. Called the New York Marble Cemetery, the burial grounds, profiled in the Times, hold 156 vaulted tombs, situated 10 feet below the lawn. The last burial was held in 1937, and over the last decade or so, the cemetery's trustees have taken to renting the outdoor space to raise money for repairs to the grounds, which were badly falling apart by the late 20th century.
Through events, the trustees have been able to restore the hidden garden and shake off much of the grittiness once associated with the East Village. Even HBO producers are interested in the space?they supposedly want to turn it into a bocce ball court for Boardwalk Empire. But there are still some shady aspects. Homeless people throw their underwear into one of the trees, and some guy recently "asked suspiciously specific questions about how to get into the vaults."