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The Creepy History of Albany’s Washington Park

Washington Park is such a beautiful part of Albany — it’s hard to believe it has such a dark past. 

The area we now know as Washington Park was once referred to as the State Street Burying Ground. That’s right, our beloved Washington Park used to be a cemetery. In fact, it was a HUGE cemetery.

Founded in 1800, the State Street Burying Ground was meant to solve a big problem from the early 19th century — overcrowding. Small church cemeteries were the most common areas for burial, so the need for more space was great. Thus, the area we now know as Washington Park was scouted and became the large cemetery that would fix burial overcrowding.

Except before long, even the State Street Burying Ground became badly overcrowded due to an increase in mortality rates and disease. In addition, these grounds became a hub for gang activity, ran rampant with acts of vandalism, was overgrown, and even became home to some livestock in the area.

After decades of decline, the State Street Burying Ground was officially deemed an unacceptable space for a cemetery. Soon after, as many as 40,000 graves were exhumed and displaced to the Albany Rural Cemetery.

There is a facet to this story that makes it even more unsettling. As the State Street Burying Ground made its beginnings, many bodies were moved from those overcrowded, private cemeteries to this new, spacious cemetery.

This means that many graves from the State Street Burying Ground had to be displaced twice — once to the State Street Burying Ground, and once away from the area where Washington Park currently sits. Some of those bodies have seen 3 different cemeteries since their initial burials.

Pretty messed up, right?

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