Cemetery History

Detail of an 1895 map of Jamaica.

Prospect Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Queens and one of the oldest in the five boroughs.  Founded in 1668, its markers date from 1709 and comprise a collection of eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth century markers and monuments.  Prospect Cemetery is the burial site for many Revolutionary War soldiers, as well as some of Queens’ most prominent families with names like Van Wyck, Sutphin and Brinkerhoff.  The Cemetery, along with its beautiful chapel, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and is a designated New York City landmark. View the NYC landmark designation report.

1895 photograph of the Chapel of the Sisters.

By the turn of the 21st century, most of the four-acre cemetery’s descendants lived in other places, and the grounds had become wildly overgrown with many varieties of vines, invasive trees, and other vegetation; many of its over 3,000 markers had been damaged as a result of age and/or vandalism.  Starting in 1999, the sponsors (Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, New York Landmarks Conservancy, and PCA) of the Prospect Cemetery Revitalization Initiative raised over $2.4 million in public and private funds and have accomplished a great deal in various phases.  The restoration was complete in 2014.


The Cemetery recently underwent significant restoration. Read more about the process and improvements.