San Mateo, CA

The population of the dead outnumbers the living by a 1000 times in this town

Anita Durairaj

Colma is a town located in San Mateo, California. It was established as a necropolis in 1924 and is aptly nicknamed the "City of Souls."

The population of the dead in Colma outnumbers the living by a ratio of a thousand to one. Recent population numbers indicate that there are approximately 1600 living residents in Colma and 1.5 million dead ones. Colma's population has declined even further as of 2020.

Colma is a city of cemeteries that was specifically built for dead San Franciscans. The city has 16-17 cemeteries and these comprise more than 70% of the land in the town.

Colma has an interesting history. There are reportedly mass graves containing the remains of thousands of people. The mass graves were a result of the 1906 earthquake that rocked San Francisco Bodies were relocated from graveyards in San Francisco and then reinterred in Colma.

Also, many people could not afford to live in San Francisco and were subsequently moved to Colma.

San Franciso also banned new burials in 1901 leaving its few cemeteries neglected and under disrepair. Colma seemed like the logical place for cemetery associations to set up their plots.

There are many notable people who have been buried or reburied in Colma. Famous names include William Randolph Hearst, Wyatt Earp, Levi Strauss, Joe DiMaggio, and others.

Today Colma is a quiet town but it will always be known for its cemeteries. It is interesting to note that the top five places to visit in Colma are all cemeteries or mausoleums.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.

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