For answers to more of your burning questions, visit the Ask Chris archive.
Q: Why are there so many cemeteries in East L.A.?
A: In the 1870s L.A.’s pocket graveyards were filling up rapidly, and the city had banned new ones from being built. So savvy developers lobbied for permission to build a lush nondenominational memorial park near a streetcar stop at the eastern edge of town. They even agreed to throw in a free potter’s field. Soon after, 64-acre Evergreen Cemetery was born. When construction on a nearby Catholic cemetery faced community resistance, the L.A. Archdiocese hired an ex-city attorney who found a loophole that allowed county health officials to grant the permit, and the Archdiocese started digging. That precedent led to the construction of a dozen more eternal resting sites in the area, slowly turning L.A.’s Eastside into a necropolis metropolis.
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