Merchant Marine Cemetery
Down a gravel path in the woods behind Ocean View Cemetery in Staten Island, is a hidden cemetery sometimes referred to as the ‘forgotten acre.’ Nearly 1,000 men who served in the Merchant Marine were buried here after they died in quarantine at the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in the Clifton neighborhood of SI (now Bayley Seton Hospital, part of which is also abandoned).
The Marine Hospital, dedicated to the care of sick and disabled seamen, was established in the 1880s. In the early 1900s, it became the U.S. Public Service Hospital and they would take in and quarantine sailors who fell ill as their ships passed Staten Island’s shores. A section of Ocean View Cemetery was purchased in 1901, after burial space became limited on the hospital grounds, and burials continued here until 1937.
There are people from all over the world buried here, some who died in their teens or well into old age. The small cemetery is surrounded by houses and several other cemeteries, but judging by the “no trespassing” signs posted around the site isn’t technically open to the public. There is a gravel access road at the northwest corner of Ocean View, and on the path through the woods I passed several rusted cars, small ponds and a herd of white tail deer.
There has been some dispute over the years as to who exactly is responsible for this overgrown plot of land, and on Veterans Day in 2011, volunteers cleaned up the site and placed a flag on each of the graves. Today you can see remnants of the tattered flags beneath the brush and leaves, and it once again seems to be living up to its name as the ‘forgotten acre.’