Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Our visit to the graves of famous Lower East Siders (Mt. Carmel Cemetery)

Earlier this week, while waiting for my car to be repaired at a local shop, I stumbled upon Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Glendale Queens. I've come across this cemetery a few times in books and articles over the years while researching and figured I'd pop in and take a look around.

Using my smart phone, I went to findagrave.com to see if I could discover any famous Lower East Siders interred here... To my surprise, several historical figures were listed: Jacob Adler! Stella Adler! Henny Youngman! Sholem Aleichem! Abe Reles!

(To a history nerd like me, yes, this was exciting.)

It turns out that there were quite a few notable former LES residents buried here, so I set aside a few hours and trekked around with a map, camera, and guidance from the very accommodating staff at the cemetery office.

Below is what I discovered, as well as a guide to help you plan your own visit. I'm too lazy to write individual bios, so if you don't know who these people are, follow the links to their Wikipedia pages.


Though the official address of Mt. Carmel is 83-45 Cypress Hills Street -- Google shows the entrance to Section No. 1 as 82-27 Cypress Hills Street, Queens, NY 11385 and Section No. 2 as 65-23 Cooper Ave, Queens, NY 11385.

You can print out the maps below to take with you on your visit (click each one to enlarge). The graves I've featured are in two different sections --about half mile from each other -- of this massive 100+ acre cemetery. Driving is recommended, but many can walk it (I did). If you need help with directions, you can stop in at the front office located at the entrance of Section No. 1.


Born: February 12, 1855 (Odessa, Russian Empire)
Died: April 1, 1926 (New York City)
Profession: Yiddish Theater actor and producer
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob_Pavlovich_Adler
Plot: Section 1, Block F, Path 12, Lot 356

Site of Jacob Adler and family

Jacob Adler's headstone
Jacob Adler's inscription


(Wife of Jacob Adler)
Born: May 26, 1858 (Odessa, Russian Empire)
Died: April 28, 1953 (New York City)
Profession: Yiddish Theater actress
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Adler
Plot: Section 1, Block F, Path 12, Lot 356

Sarah Adler's headstone


(Daughter of Jacob and Sarah)
Born: February 10, 1901 (Lower East Side, NYC)
Died: December 21, 1992 (Los Angeles)
Profession: Actress, founder of "Stella Adler Studio of Acting"
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sara_Adler
Plot: Section 1, Block F, Path 11, Lot 373

Stella Adler's headstone
I don't know why, but it kind of bothers me that this prominent woman, who did so much for
Hollywood, only has a tiny, easily-overlooked memorial at the very end of a path.

SHOLEM ALEICHEM (b. Solomon Rabinovich)

Born: 1859 (Pereyaslav, Russian Empire/Ukraine)
Died: May 13, 1916 (New York City)
Profession: Yiddish author. "Fiddler on the Roof" is based on one of his characters.
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sholem_Aleichem
Plot: Section 1, Plot 19, Path 35 (first row)

Sholem Aleichem's headstone


Born: December 29, 1871 (Kalvarija, Congress of Poland, Russian Empire)
Died: June 6, 1926 (New York City)
Profession: U.S. Congressman, Socialist Party leader
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meyer_London
Plot: Section 1, Plot 19, Path 35 (first row)

Meyer London's headstone


Born: May 10, 1906 (New York, NY)
Died: November 12, 1941 (Brooklyn, NY)
Profession: Gangster, contract killer for "Murder, Inc."
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abe_Reles
Plot: Section 1, Block E, Map 38

Abe Reles's headstone.
To find it, look for this sign at the driveway, walk down the path.
Abe Reles is located on the 4th to last row, to the left.


Born: March 16, 1906 (London, England)
Died: February 24, 1998 (New York City)
Profession: Comedian, radio/television star
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henny_Youngman
Plot: Section 2, Block 9, Map 9

Henny Youngman's headstone
Henny Youngman and wife Sadie

To find it, locate this entrance at the foot of the driveway, walk 7 rows back and make a left.


Born: July 3, 1867 (Bar, Ukraine/Russia)
Died: June 19, 1928 (New York City)
Profession: Labor leader, co-founder of American Jewish Congress
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Barondess
Plot: Section 2, Block 6, Map 3

Joseph Barondess headstone

[HONORABLE MENTION: Though not technically a Lower East Sider, Bella Abzug did represent the district as U.S. Representative]


Born: July 24, 1920 (New York City)
Died: March 31, 1998 (New York City)
Profession: Lawyer, feminist, U.S. House of Representatives
Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bella_Abzug
Plot: Section 1, Block C, Map 14

Bella Abzug's headstone
To find it, look for this arch at the foot of the driveway,
walk a few rows back and to the left.

I'm sure there are many more prominent Lower East Siders buried here at Mt. Carmel. If you know of any, please let us know in the comment section.

Written by: Eric Ferrara, founder of Lower East Side History Project

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