Memorial Service

What to do with Ashes in New York City

Discover meaningful options for handling cremated ashes in New York. Insights into local regulations, eco-friendly choices, scattering at sea and more.


In the aftermath of losing a loved one, families often find themselves navigating the complex and emotional process of deciding on the final disposition of their ashes. It's a journey that intertwines grief, remembrance, and the desire to honor the departed in a way that feels true to their spirit and the family's needs. At Memoria, our mission is not just to provide cremation services, but ensure that the decision you make not only serves as a fitting tribute to your loved one's memory but also resonates with your family's emotional needs and personal beliefs.

This detailed guide is designed to explore the various dignified and meaningful options available in New York City for ashes. We recognize that each family's journey is unique, and the choice of a final resting place for a loved one's ashes is as personal as it is significant. Memoria has drawn upon our extensive experience in providing compassionate cremation services. We have witnessed firsthand how the right choice of a final resting place can bring solace and a sense of peace to grieving families.

New York City, with its rich tapestry of cultures, history, and landscapes, offers a diverse array of options for ashes. These range from traditional columbarium niches in historic cemeteries to more contemporary and natural settings like scattering gardens and water burials. Each option presents its own unique way of memorializing a loved one, and this guide aims to provide you with a clear and comprehensive understanding of these choices.

Memoria's guide to interring ashes in New York City is more than just a list of locations. It's a resource that combines practical information with thoughtful insights, helping you navigate the emotional and logistical aspects of this important decision. Whether you're seeking a place of quiet reflection or a more dynamic way to celebrate your loved one's life, we hope this guide will assist you in finding a solution that feels right for you and your family.

1. Scattering Ashes: Embracing Nature's Cycle

Scattering gardens offer a natural and peaceful environment for those who prefer a more organic tribute. These gardens are designated areas within parks or cemeteries, allowing for a connection with the natural world and symbolizing the cycle of life and return to nature.

Options in New York:

  • Central Park: Central Park is an iconic New York City landmark and a beloved destination for locals and visitors alike. The park’s sprawling 843 acres offer plenty of opportunities to find a peaceful, secluded spot to scatter ashes.

  • The Hudson River: The Hudson River is a picturesque and iconic waterway that runs through the heart of New York City. Scattering ashes along the river’s banks or on a boat tour can be a meaningful way to honor a loved one. However, keep in mind the rules for scattering ashes in a body of water. You will need to get permission from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

  • Prospect Park: Located in Brooklyn, Prospect Park is a popular spot for ash scattering ceremonies. The park’s 526 acres include a variety of natural habitats and landscapes, making it easy to find a peaceful spot to scatter ashes.

  • Pelham Bay Park: Pelham Bay Park can be an amazing place for ash scattering in New York City. It’s more than three times the size of Central Park and provides more peace and tranquility. It can be a little more difficult to get to using public transportation but it is possible.

  • The Brooklyn Bridge: The Brooklyn Bridge is an iconic New York City landmark. It is also a popular spot for ash scattering ceremonies. Scattering ashes in Brooklyn Bridge Park offers breathtaking views of the city and the East River.

2. Scattering at Sea Memorials

Ash scattering at sea refers to the practice of scattering the cremated remains (ashes) of a deceased person over a body of water, such as the ocean. This is often chosen as a final resting place for individuals who had a special connection to the sea or for those who simply prefer a location that holds personal significance.

The process typically involves placing the cremated remains in a biodegradable urn or container designed for water dispersal. These urns are often made from materials such as paper, salt, or other environmentally friendly substances. Once the urn is set adrift on the water, it gradually breaks down and releases the ashes, allowing them to be dispersed by the currents.

In New York, the Federal Clean Water Act allows for scattering ashes at sea, provided it is done a specific distance from the shore.

With Memoria, your commemorative service aboard our ship will be memorable. A representative can be there to attend to all details assuring that you and your guest can relax with peace of mind. The ship is spacious with interior seating and has a canopied upper deck. Our ship mates are there to assist you, to be sure your voyage is safe and pleasant.

You will sail out of New York Harbor; pass the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. As the boat travels out to sea with the New York skyline behind, you may choose to photograph the scenery or remain with family and friends. Your memorial service is designed by you. Many bring aboard flowers, music, collages of pictures, and some choose religious services at this time. We can help to arrange many services, or you may wish your own clergy for readings and prayer.

You may also decide to put the urn or container of your loved one on view. We will set up a table covered in white cloth at the bow of the boat where flowers may be laid, and pictures displayed.

3. Columbarium Niches: A Reverent Resting Place

A columbarium niche offers a timeless and serene location for housing cremated remains. These spaces within a columbarium, often found in cemeteries or religious institutions, provide a respectful and accessible place for families to visit, reflect, and remember.

Notable Locations in NYC:

  • The Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx:

    This historic site offers a range of options including a cremation garden, scattering garden, and a magnificent cremation mausoleum. The mausoleum features glass-front niches that allow for personal memorabilia to be displayed alongside the urn, creating a unique and personal memorial space for each individual

  • Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn:

    As a National Historic Landmark, this cemetery is not only a piece of history but also a place of beauty. It offers indoor and outdoor granite niches set amidst a peaceful and scenic environment. The modern architectural design of these facilities provides a meaningful and loving tribute to the departed

  • Maple Grove Cemetery, Kew Gardens:

    The Center at Maple Grove offers an elegantly lit glass-front niche space within its Memorial Niche Room. This tranquil indoor location provides a peaceful atmosphere for inurnment. Additionally, the Remembrance Garden and Lakeview Memorial Garden at Maple Grove offer outdoor options, blending the beauty of nature with the dignity of memorialization

Legal and Cultural Considerations to Keep in Mind

Understanding the legal and cultural aspects of interring ashes in New York City is essential. This includes familiarity with local laws, regulations concerning different interment options, and respecting cultural and religious traditions that may influence the decision-making process.

  1. General Regulations: In New York City, as in many other places, the disposition of ashes must be done in accordance with state and local laws. This includes obtaining the necessary permits for cremation and following specific guidelines for scattering ashes or interring them in cemeteries or columbariums.

  2. Scattering Laws:

    • Private Property:

      Ashes can be scattered on private property with the property owner's permission.

    • Public Lands and Parks:

      Scattering ashes in public places like parks and natural reserves often requires permission from the relevant authorities. Some places may have designated areas for scattering, while others might prohibit it entirely.

    • Water Scattering:

      Under the United States Federal Clean Water Act, ashes can be scattered at sea, but this must be done at least 3 nautical miles from land. Additionally, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must be notified within 30 days of such an event.

    • Scattering by Air:

      There are no specific New York state laws prohibiting the scattering of ashes from an airplane, but federal aviation laws prohibit dropping any objects that might harm people or property.

  3. Columbarium and Cemetery Regulations: Each cemetery or columbarium in New York City may have its own set of rules and regulations regarding the interment of ashes. This can include restrictions on the type of urns used, the placement of memorials, and the conduct of ceremonies within their grounds.

Contact Memoria for your personalized Ash Scattering service by emailing us at We can also help with finding the perfect spot at a Columbarium niche.