Preserving history one gravestone at a time

Spend your summer working among the dead. Believe it or not, it's a pretty good gig.

Spend your summer working among the dead. Believe it or not, it's a pretty good gig.

The Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is the final resting place for some prominent world figures, including Joseph Pulitzer and J.C. Penney.

But with history there also comes decay, and that's where 12 young adults are playing a pretty big role.

"If I were left here I would want someone to be happy about my memory that's left of me," intern Timothy Miles said.

They're interns for a pilot program called Bridge Gate Careers.

For nine 30-hour weeks at $10 an hour, interns are out learning the basics of historic preservation.

It's an industry with huge demand for new hires and it’s perfect for those with just a high school degree.

“I think this would be a great job, it’s calming, there’s not a lot of people around,” intern Sean Hannah stated.

But why come to a cemetery to learn a historic preservation?

Frank Sanchis, who works for the World Monuments fund – the organization behind this program, answered this question.

“The pointing, the cleaning, or the seeing as you would have on a large historic building so because of the variety of the stone and the accessibility of the monuments, they actually make a great training program,” Sanchis explained.

The program is proven to be pretty beneficial for Woodlawn Cemetery.

“You can see that the monuments have been straightened in a row, it was a disheveled mess. The cemetery had no other way to do this unless someone said oh let me fix up the lot,” Susan Olsen, from Woodlawn Cemetery, claimed.

The program will cap off right before Labor Day, where graduates will then be qualified to become appetencies with contractors in the city.

Apprentices essentially get paid around $40,000 - $50,000 a year. The preservation industry is booming in NYC.

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