The Virtual Cemetery

Ohabei Cemetery, East Boston, MA, as seen in Google Earth

Quick hit tonight. While I was doing a bit of research I stumbled across the Temple Ohabei Cemetery in East Boston, the oldest known Jewish cemetery in the city. When I looked it up on Google Maps to get a sense of size and location for a future visit, I noticed something: Google Earth has rendered it in 3D! (It’s a bit hard to tell from this screeenshot, so here’s a link)

This was the first time I’d seen this, and it got me curious as to how many other cemeteries have been so rendered, so I checked around. Mount Auburn was a miss; while trees and structures were 3D, the stones themselves were not. Granary Burying Ground in Boston had a couple prominent monuments – the Franklin family tomb at the center and the John Hancock marker – rendered, but the other stones were mostly too small to really tell. The gorgeous Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx appears to be fully rendered, and it’s fairly stunning. I can’t find any reference online to precisely how this is done, though I imagine a lot of it is third party development. Still, I wonder – between this, increasingly precise GPS, a growing market for Virtual Reality, and apps like webCemeteries – how long it will be until a fully virtual cemetery tour is possible.



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