Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

Categories: History | North America | Society

There are cities that exist entirely at the expense of tourists. The city of Colma, located near San Francisco, California, is not one of them. He lives off the dead, which attract tourists from other states and countries. Colma is a cemetery town, whose population is mainly occupied with maintaining the necropolises.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

It's hard to find a cemetery in the vast city of San Francisco. There are only two of them in the metropolis. One of them is dedicated to military veterans, and the second belongs to the Dolores Christian Mission. The townspeople take the dead to the neighboring town of Kolma and bury them there. The flow of hearses does not dry out, but local residents have nothing against it.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

In Colma it is not customary to say “cemetery”; locals call numerous churchyards parks. People go there with their children, have picnics, and stroll with their loved ones. These parks are clean and beautiful, and only tombstones and monuments remind you that these are still cemeteries.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

At the beginning of the 20th century, San Francisco began to grow rapidly. Thousands of people from all over the world flocked to the city. They lived, worked, gave birth to children, grew old and died. There was almost no planning of urban development and residential buildings stood next to the graves. This was not only unpleasant, but also dangerous - there was a constant threat of epidemics in the city.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

Therefore, in 1912, the authorities of San Francisco, under pressure from doctors, public figures and owners of expensive real estate, introduced a ban on burials in the city. Moreover, they decided to move the existing graves to a specially designated place. This is how the town of Colma appeared in San Mateo County, with a special cemetery infrastructure.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

Burials were moved from San Francisco to Colma for more than 20 years. About 150 thousand dead people moved to the new place. Transferring each one cost $10, or $250 (22.3 thousand rubles) at current prices. There were remains that no one paid to move. They were placed in mass graves, and the tombstones were used for city purposes.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

Today the population of Colma is 1,800 people. Most of these people, by their line of work, are in one way or another connected with cemeteries, of which there are 17. The area of the city is 4.9 square kilometers, 70 percent of which are occupied by burial grounds. In 2024, there were 1.5 million of them. This means that for every living inhabitant of Colma, there are approximately 1,000 dead.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

The unusual cemetery town attracts tourists. As expected, they are offered themed souvenirs. T-shirts with the inscription “It’s great to be alive in Colma” are very popular among city guests. This is the specific humor of local residents. There is a lot to see in Colma.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

Tourists are attracted not only by the atmosphere of the city, but also by the graves of famous personalities. Many iconic US figures are buried there, such as the founder of the denim industry, Levi Strauss, and the notorious media tycoon William Hearst.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

A funeral in Colma costs an average of 10 thousand dollars (892 thousand rubles) per grave. It is cheaper to rest in an urn placed in a columbarium. This “pleasure” costs 4.5 thousand dollars (404 thousand rubles). It is not surprising that recently most funerals take place through cremation.

Colma is an American cemetery town that lives off the dead.

There is also a special service for the most demanding. For a certain amount, the urn with the ashes of the deceased will be “settled” in a multi-story columbarium with constantly running air conditioners. The premises are decorated with marble and granite, and the windows and doors are decorated with exquisite stained glass. Urns are stored in thousands of cells with plastic doors located in the walls of the halls. In addition to ashes, many contain photographs of the deceased or things they loved during life.

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