City of Souls

City of Souls: San Francisco's Necropolis at ColmaCity of Souls: San Francisco’s Necropolis at Colma by Michael Svanevik

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

California’s Colma is unique in the U.S. as a city founded to safeguard the rights of the dead. This little book traces Colma’s history from a fog-bound valley of pig and potato farms to a city of 17 cemeteries with millions of permanent residents.

Colma was founded after burials were banned in San Francisco.  Pioneers buried at Mission Dolores, as well as in the Masonic, Odd Fellows, Catholic and Protestant Cemeteries were uprooted and transferred to new graves in the Colma cemeteries.

Each of the Colma cemeteries receives its own brief chapter, spotlighting important or interesting burials, which are marked on a graveyard map. The variety of memorials is astounding — from the millionaire mausoleums of Cypress Lawn to the handmade monuments crowded into Pets Rest, from the Eastern European flavor of the Serbian graveyard to the East Asian texture of the Japanese or Chinese cemeteries — all documented by black-and-white photos. There’s a lot here to delight the eye and entertain the intellect. This little book is a must for anyone interested in cemeteries.

Although new copies can be hard to find, several are available on Amazon: City of Souls: San Francisco’s Necropolis at Colma

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