Atlas Obscura recently collaborated with Caitlin Doughty, the mortician and activist behind Ask a Mortician, to explore the Most Holy Trinity Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. The cemetery is unique because of its metal headstones, originally installed as an attempt to blur class distinctions. Painted grey to resemble traditional granite grave markers, these monuments were deceptive for a time. Over the past 165 years though, the materials have fallen victim to the elements. In the video above, Atlas Obscura Senior Editor Ella Morton joins Doughty at the cemetery for a discussion of the origins and consequences of this unusual headstone technique.

The story then continues below, as Doughty goes into more detail about the decay and corrosion that have shaped the cemetery’s metallic headstones. The surviving monuments are twisted and discolored, each metal reacting in its own way to produce a different weathered appearance. While the effects of time have warped these grave markers, as Doughty puts it, “there is a beauty in the idea that the elements decay, the same way that a human body, or a community, eventually decays.”

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