Tag: Exploring Chinatown

First Shearith Israel Graveyard/Chatham Square Cemetery                                            55-57 St. James Place                                  New York, 10038

First Shearith Israel Graveyard/Chatham Square Cemetery 55-57 St. James Place New York, 10038

First Shearith Israel Graveyard/Chatham Square Cemetery

55-57 St. James Place

New York, NY 10038

(212) 873-0300


Open: 24 Hours

Fee: Free

My review on TripAdvisor:

There are times that I walk around Manhattan and things just pop out at you. Tucked inside small pockets of the City are small community gardens, detailed statues, street art and sometimes a small cemetery. I had passed the First Shearith Israel Graveyard or also known as the Chatham Square Cemetery many times when visiting Chinatown since I was a kid. This tiny elevated pocket square of land is located next to a building and locked behind a gate just off St. James Place right at the end of Mott Street strip of Chinatown.

Chatham Square Cemetery

You really have to look for this at the side of 55-57 St. James Place

This is the oldest Jewish Cemetery in Manhattan that was in use from 1683 to 1833. The site of the cemetery was originally on a hill overlooking the East River in an open area at the northern periphery of the British-Dutch colonial settlement. The plot was purchased in 1682 by Joseph Bueno de Mesquita and the cemetery’s first interment was for his relative, Benjamin Bueno de Mesquita. The cemetery expanded in the 1700’s from Chatham Square to the upper part of Oliver Street to Madison Avenue (Wiki).

The original map of the Dutch Colony (New York Historical Society)

In 1823, a City ordinance prohibited burials south of Canal Street and the congregation opened a second burial spot at West 11th Street. A third cemetery was opened at 21st Street west of Sixth Avenue. The size of the cemetery has been reduced over the years because of development and most of the bodies were removed and moved to the other cemeteries. In 1851, the City again prohibited burials below 86th Street and the congregations again opened a fourth cemetery in Ridgewood, Queens. In 1855, with more development changing the area again and over two hundred graves were removed from the site. Only about hundred remain (Wiki).

Two of the most notable people buried here are Reverend Gershom Mendes Seixas (1745-1816), the first American born Jewish spiritual leader and Dr. Walter Jonas Judah, the second person of the Jewish faith to attend an American Medical School (now Columbia University) and the first native born one. (Wiki). There are also 18 Jewish Revolutionary War era veterans and patriots buried here.

History of the Jewish Settlement in Dutch New York:

In September of 1654, just after the Jewish New Year, twenty-three Jews, mostly of Spanish and Portuguese origin arrived in Manhattan. These people had been living in Recife, the former capital of the 17th Century Dutch Brazil. When the Portuguese defeated the Dutch for control of Recife and brought with them the Inquisition, the Jews of that area left. Some returned to Amsterdam, where they had originated and others moved around the Caribbean to other islands. These twenty-three arrived in New York due a series of unseen events (Big Apple Secrets).

Governor Peter Stuyvesant did not want to permit them to stay but these settlers fought for their rights and won permission to remain. In 1655, the Jewish settlers applied to the Dutch authorities for permission to purchase a parcel of land as an exclusive place to bury their dead. In February of 1656, appealed “that consent may be given” for the purchase. In 1644, the British took New Amsterdam and renamed it New York and the Jews were granted more civil rights. In 1706, they had organized their own congregation, Shearith Israel (Big Apple Secrets).

The cemetery for the most part is pad locked but you can view the outside from the street level. The cemetery is open on Memorial Day for services to the members of the armed services but for the most part you have to view the cemetery from the street level.

Chatham Square Cemetery

The plaque that you can see at eye level just inside the cemetery.

This unique plot of land is easy to miss so look for the plaque at eye level as you pass it.

MOCA: The Museum of Chinese in America                                                           215 Centre Street                                          New York, NY 10013

MOCA: The Museum of Chinese in America 215 Centre Street New York, NY 10013

MOCA: The Museum of Chinese in America

215 Centre Street

New York City, NY  10013

Telephone: (855) 955-4720

Fax: (212) 619-4720

Email: infor@mocany.org



Hours: Tuesday-Wednesday-11:00am-6:00pm/Thursday-11:00am-9:00pm/Saturday & Sunday-11:00am-6:00pm

Fee: General Admission $10.00/Students/Seniors/Children/Military-$7.00/Free to members and people with disabilities

TripAdvisor Review:


The Museum of Chinese in America engages audiences in an ongoing dialogue, in which people of all backgrounds are able to see American history and society through a critical lens, to reflect on their own experiences  and to make meaningful connections between the past and the present, the global and the local, themselves and others.

MOCA began in 1980 as the New York Chinatown History Project, a community based organization founded by scholar John Kuo Wei Tchen and community activist Charles Lai to promote knowledge and understanding of the history and contributions of Chinese Americans. Today, the MOCA is a national cultural anchor and a global destination. It is located on the border of Chinatown and SoHo in New York City in its Maya Lin-designed home that was highlighted by Architectural Digest as one of Lin’s most memorable designs.

Museum of Chinese in America II

The entrance to the museum

Permanent Exhibition:

Our core exhibition, With a Single Step: Stories in the Making of America, traces more than 160 years of milestones in Chinese American History from the earliest Chinese Immigration to the struggle for citizenship to the development of our contemporary identity.

The core exhibit revolves around the Museum’s historic sky-lit courtyard, which renowned artist and designer Maya Lin has left deliberately raw and untouched as a reminder of the past and to evoke a classic Chinese courtyard house.

Special Exhibitions:

Our rotating galleries showcase a revolving series of MOCA-curated and visiting exhibitions featuring contemporary art, design and historical subjects.

MOCA Shop:

The MOCA Shop features select items, including books, ceramics, designs by local artists and children’s gifts.


Using inquire-driven approaches, MOCA provides museum and in-school programs on Chinese American history and culture fro K-12 and college students at all levels, as well as professional development workshops for teachers. These programs complement classroom learning and foster expansive opportunities for primary source-based learning and development of 21st Century skills such as critical thinking, visual media literacy and civic engagement. They present diverse layers of the Chinese American experience, using individual stories to highlight what it has meant to be Chinese in America at different moments in time, while also examinating America’s journey as a nation of immigrants.

Family Programs:

MOCA’s family programs bring together parents, grandparents, children and grandchildren alike to participate in fun, hands on activities celebrating Chinese American heritage and history. From our annual holiday Family Festivals to our bi-monthly MOCACREATE workshops,  enjoy story telling, drop-in arts and crafts, teaching artist demonstrations, performances and more!

Public Programs:

Through its thought-provoking and multi-disciplinary programming, MOCA’s signature public programs series offers diverse perspectives on the living history of Chinese Americans and gives visitors opportunities to actively engage in shaping and influence the Chinese American cultural landscape.


MOCA offer dynamic educator-led tours of our exhibitions and guided walking tours of New York Chinatown for all ages, designed to encourage meaningful ties between visitors’ lives and the history, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States.

Preserve your family Legacy:

As visitors enter the Museum, they are greeted with the Journey Wall, a custom art installation created fro the main lobby of MOCA’s space by Maya Lin.

The wall is composed of bronze tiles through which Chinese Americans can honor and remember their family roots. Each tile is inscribed with an individual’s or family’s name and place of origin with their home in America. The complete wall will highlight the expansiveness of the Chinese American diaspora.

To become a permanent part of the Museum epic narrative, your family can place a tile on the Journey Wall.

Museum of Chinese in America IV

For more information or to make a reservation for a tile, please contact the Development department at (855) 955-MOCA or email development@mocanyc.org. All gifts are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law.


MOCA’s ever-expanding archives and permanent collections are comprised of more than 65,00 artifacts, letters, written records, oral histories, textiles, photographs and videos. The collections highlight the varied threads of the Chinese American diaspora, exploring how they intersect and diverge, illuminating the ways in which they are intimately interwoven within the broader multicultural fabric of the United States.

Museum of Chinese in America III

Galleries at the museum

Research services are available by appointment on weekdays at MOCA’s Collections & Research Center, located at MOCA’s original site at 70 Mulberry Street, which is housed in a historic public school building dating back to the 19th century. MOCA continues to make the museum’s resources available to researchers around the world through its Collections Online. Currently, researchers are able to search more than 10,000 item records and archival finding aids online via PastPerfect and Archives.Space.

Museum of Chinese in America

Galleries at the museum

MOCA’s Commitment:

*Presenting relevant historical and contemporary exhibitions.

*Collecting and preserving Chinese American history.

*Transforming how our audience learn, engage and use technology to explore history, identity, culture and community.

*Creating curricula and educational programs for students and teachers and offering resources for researchers.

*Cultivating community-based projects and collecting oral histories.

*Hosting films, festivals, performances, readings, workshops and conferences on topics relevant to MOCA’s mission.

Book your group visit today! (855) 955-6622.

Visit MOCA:

Our beautiful 16,000 square foot space at 215 Centre Street is designed by artist and designer Maya Lin. It is a national home for the precious narratives of diverse Chinese American communities and strives to be a model among interactive museums. MOCA brings to life the journeys, memories and contributions of the enduring Chinese American legacy.

Support MOCA:

MOCA relies on the generosity of private individuals, corporations and foundations to fulfill its mission to preserve and present Chinese American history and culture. Funding from donations and memberships provides critical support for our collections, exhibitions, educational initiatives, public programs and operations. To learn more about supporting MOCA or to make a specific gift, please visit https://secure.mocanyc.org/donation/or contact the Development department at development@mocanyc.org.

Membership Benefits:

MOCA members see it first! Enjoy exclusive benefits, including free gallery admission, invitations to exhibition openings, opportunities to meet curators, artists and performers and discounts at the MOCA Shop, as well as at select community partners. To join or renew your membership, please visit mocanyc.org/membership or call (855) 955-6622.

Interns & Volunteers:

MOCA is always seeking dedicated individuals to assist us in our work. Please visit our website for more information.


N,Q,R,J,Z and 6 trains to Canal Street, M9, M15, M103 buses. The nearest parking lot is located at Centre and Hester Streets. Citi Bike station on Howard and Hester Streets.

Museum Hours:

Monday: Closed

Tuesday-Wednesday 11:00am-6:00pm

Thursday: 11:00am-9:00pm

Saturday & Sunday: 11:00am-6:00pm

MOCA is closed on select holidays.

MOCA Free First Thursdays: Free gallery admission first Thursday of each month except on major holidays. Made possible through the generosity of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and J.T. Tai & Co. Foundation.

Admission Price:

Currently (2017) General Admission: $10.00

Seniors (65+) and Students (ID required): $5.00

Children under 12 (in groups smaller than 10): free

MOCA Members: free

Hours, admissions prices and schedule of events are subject to change.

Access & Accessibility:

MOCA is committed to making its collection, buildings, programs and services accessible to visitors of all abilities. For more information, please visit mocanyc.org/visit/accessibility.


*Disclaimer: This information is taken directly from the MOCA pamphlet. Things are subject to change by the organization so please call in advance for any special services.

The museum is worth seeing and see my review on TripAdvisor.