Why Is Colma, California Called the City of the Silent?


Quick Answer

The San Francisco Bay Area city of Colma, California, was originally founded as an area that was mostly used to build cemeteries; as a result, the city has a few nicknames relating to its early high proportion of dead "residents," with "the City of the Silent" being one of the most popular. Even though Colma has developed as part of the densely populated Bay Area, the ratio of dead to alive in that area tends to vastly favor the dead. Colma has about 2 square miles of land and, as of the 2010 census, fewer than 2,000 people lived there.

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Why Is Colma, California Called the City of the Silent?
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Full Answer

Colma was initially founded as a small town for living people, with businesses and residential areas springing up in the early 1800s. The area was first incorporated under the name of Lawndale in 1924, and by this point, the town was effectively a necropolis thanks to the high proportion of land dedicated to interring the dead. This is related to a 1900 San Francisco law that prohibited the building of any new cemeteries within the city limit, forcing San Francisco residents to look to neighboring local areas for land to use for funeral burials.

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