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  • Writer's pictureZanelle Awinyo

The City of Souls

This Article was written by Zanelle Awinyo

Have you ever heard of a city where the dead outnumber the living?

It may sound like a town from a Halloween movie, but such a place does exist.

The city of Colma in California.

For the longest time, San Francisco land has been too expensive to be given to the dead. That’s why there are only two Graveyards in the whole city; a small one at Mission Dolores Church and a Military one at the Presidio.

During the first decades of the 20th century, hundreds of thousands of bodies that had been buried in San Francisco were moved to one town, just a few miles South of the City.

Famously known as the City of Souls in Colma; a small town with a population of just one and a half thousand people, with one and a half million people resting there... meaning the dead outnumber the living by about 1000:1.

Many of the bodies in the Colma graves have been moved many times.

The city has banned new burials and living relatives hesitate to pay rent to keep the space for the graves in the area. There have also been reports of grave robberies for valuables- or even skeletons sometimes.

Fourteen cemetery associations founded Colma as a place for the dead.

In 1924, with no one to pay for funeral plots and more than a hundred thousand bodies to relocate; the majority of bodies moved there were placed in mass unidentified graves, with their tombstones sold and used as construction material. And with that, Colma gained its name as San Francisco’s necropolis.

And that’s a Free Fact you now know.


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