The Salton Sea & Calvary, Blog Post #3 – Kate Shannon

“Greetings from the Salton Sea” explores the many ways in which human interference and natural phenomenon have altered and forever changed the Salton Sea, an intriguing lake that once sat in the middle of a desert in California. The Salton Sea now an un-swimmable location,  loaded with fish carcasses and abandoned vacation homes. What happened in between was capitalism and natural occurrences strung together, human development, ecological patterns, and a lot of salt. What the author sees as important at the end of the study is not planning simply for the future, but having regard for the now. Noting that young people have recently moved to the retirement dominated population, the meaning of a place is happening now, and its never static.

This thought process was extremely similar to my own when visiting my ecology, Calvary Cemetery. Once a wide open space is Queens, St. Patrick’s church bought it in the mid 19th century after a cholera outbreak had quickly filled their Manhattan plot. Calvary now has over 3 million burials, expanding to different parts of Queens with a total of four different branches. The spaces are filled with old tombstones and tall gothic statues, stretching back to its earliest tenants who had the money to buy such aesthetics. 

It is bordered by the bustling expanse of Queens, with JFK bound airplanes flying overheard and the Queens Expressway zooming away to the west. The horizon, the appeal, the skyline, and the neighborhood have all changed. It is now just one of many cemeteries in the area. 

On my walks around the grounds, the only other people I came across were people laying flowers down on a grave, or local residents taking their afternoon run. In the bustling community, Calvary has transformed from an unoccupied place of seclusion to a green space. When it was very purchased, I doubt anyone ever once imagined what it would look like today. 


~ by Kate Shannon on May 13, 2014.

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