News

Hart Island: New York's Mysterious Mass Grave

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Hart Island is the final resting place for more than 1 million New Yorkers, all buried by inmates. The mysterious mass grave has been closed to the public for decades but is now opening its gates to relatives, like Roberta Omin.

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Island of the Dead

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Most New Yorkers don't even know of its existence, but one of the city's islands houses a mass grave of more than a million bodies.

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Hart Island Hallelujah

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Paying a Visit to Forgotten New Yorkers.

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©2014 Roxanne Palmer

Gevangenis voor de doden

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Op een eilandje boven de Newyorkse wijk Queens ligt Hart Island, het grootste publieke massagraf ter wereld. Telegraaf TV nam een bijzonder kijkje op de plek waar alle ongeïdentificeerde overleden inwoners van de stad terechtkomen.

Read more… Gevangenis voor de doden
telegraaf.nl

Why NYC Wouldn't Let This Woman Visit Her Daughter's Grave

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Every month, the bodies of about 125 people are shipped from New York City's medical examiner’s office to Hart Island just off the Bronx. It’s the final resting place for nearly one million people. For over a century, it’s where the city has buried its unclaimed dead and in some cases, babies that have died at childbirth or soon after.

Read more… Why NYC Wouldn't Let This Woman Visit Her Daughter's Grave
©2014 Melinda Hunt/The Hart Island Project

Hart Island, New York’s secret graveyard

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Few visitors to New York are aware that a wooded island off the coast of the Bronx is home to one of the world’s largest burial grounds. Since 1869 over 850,000 corpses have been buried on Hart Island, yet the site – which is run by the Department of Correction and dug by prison inmates – is shrouded in so much secrecy that even relatives of the dead are denied the right to visit the graves.

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©2014 Melinda Hunt/The Hart Island Project

Nearly 1 Million People Buried On This Forbidden NYC Island

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Just north of the Bronx, on City Island, there is a road that dead ends at a dock on the Long Island Sound.

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Hart Island: One woman's journey to find her baby daughter's grave

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The trench is broad and deep. Pale brown earth has been freshly turned, ready for another row of coffins.

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ITV News 2014

One million buried in mass graves on forbidden New York island

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Hart Island in New York is the biggest mass grave in the United States. One million bodies have been buried there since 1869, including stillborn babies, the homeless, the poor, the unidentified and the unclaimed.

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DON EMMERT/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Hart Island holds a million graves of babies and unidentified and poor people

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Hart Island has had many uses since the city of New York purchased it in 1868, but its primary function has been as a burial ground for the poor, the unidentified and the unclaimed. On this strip of land off the Bronx shore, ruined buildings that were once a borstal, a quarantine for tuberculosis patients and a lunatic asylum are surrounded by white posts, each marking the final resting place of either 150 adults or 1000 infants.

Read more… Hart Island holds a million graves of babies and unidentified and poor people
©2014 Melinda Hunt/The Hart Island Project

Honoring the Unnamed Dead of AIDS on Hart Island

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“The Graves of Forgotten New Yorkers,” by Bess Lovejoy and Allison C. Meier (Op-Ed, March 19), mentions an individual grave on Hart Island for the first child to die of AIDS in New York. In 1992, Joel Sternfeld and I photographed the marker for that plot.

Read more… Honoring the Unnamed Dead of AIDS on Hart Island
Child AIDS Grave ©1992 Melinda Hunt in collaboration with Joel Sternfeld

The Graves of Forgotten New Yorkers

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On New York City maps, Hart Island drifts off the edge of the Bronx like an amputated leg. Among overgrown vegetation and ramshackle buildings spread out over 101 acres, about a million bodies are buried — the homeless, the poor, the stillborn, the unidentified and the unclaimed.

Read more… The Graves of Forgotten New Yorkers
Kaley McKean/The New York Times

Woman Who Lost Newborn in 1978 Visits Approximate Gravesite on Hart Island

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It's been 36 years since a hospital mistakenly allowed Elaine Joseph's newborn to be buried at the city's public cemetery on Hart Island. She's been to the island there times since then, searching for her baby.

Read more… Woman Who Lost Newborn in 1978 Visits Approximate Gravesite on Hart Island
©2014 Melinda Hunt/The Hart Island Project

The Hart Island Project: Melinda Hunt's quest to identify the anonymous

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“The feeling that it’s within your control to commemorate your loved one is an important feeling to restore,” says Melinda Hunt, an artist who, for the past two decades, has sought to do just that for relatives of the 850,000 people buried since the Civil War on Hart Island, a potter’s field in Long Island Sound.

Read more… The Hart Island Project: Melinda Hunt's quest to identify the anonymous
Sidney Grimes buried 2004 ©2011 Melinda Hunt/The Hart Island Project

Effort Aims to Expand Access to Hart Island Gravesites

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At age 23, Elaine Joseph of Fresh Meadows lost her first child to a heart defect.

"At five days old, after suffering cardiac arrest before and after the surgery my daughter died," Joseph recalled.

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New Yorkers demand access to mass graves on convict island

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Campaigners, residents and a group of women who each lost a child at birth will gather this weekend for a meeting on City Island on the edge of the Bronx, hoping to shed light on one of New York City’s darkest and strangest secrets.

Read more… New Yorkers demand access to mass graves on convict island
Prisoners prepare to bury the dead in the fenced-off cemetery of Hart Island Arthur Schatz/Time & Life Pictures/Getty

Searching for My Dead Baby in a New York Mass Grave

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New Yorker Elaine Joseph tells Matthew Bannister about her 35-year search for the body of her baby daughter Tomika, who died when she was just a few days old. Elaine believes Tomika's body may be in a public cemetery.

Read more… Searching for My Dead Baby in a New York Mass Grave
©2013 Claire Yaffa/The Hart Island Project

The Bronx's 'Isle of the Dead' may get new life as park

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A Bronx-based potter’s Field that’s been in use since the Victorian era may get a new life.

Part of Hart Island, a 130-acre isle off mainland Bronx that has been used as a public cemetery since 1869, may become the city’s newest park after a Queens lawmaker vowed to revisit a measure that would bring it under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department.

Read more… The Bronx's 'Isle of the Dead' may get new life as park
Inmates prepare for a burial at Hart Island.

Visiting the Island of the Dead

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On Tuesday morning, the first snow flurries of the season fell on New York’s potter’s field, drifting down into an open trench, dusting the dirt next to hundreds of corpses in bare wooden caskets.

Read more… Visiting the Island of the Dead
Victor Blue for The New York Times

Secrets of New York: Islands

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Kelly ventures to mysterious islands around New York to unearth the secrets that lie hidden in their past. On Hart Island, she meets with experts who enrich our understanding of the site’s rich history: before it became the city’s cemetery for unclaimed bodies, Hart Island was the training ground for African American regiments during the Civil War, as well as a mental asylum and hospital site

Read more… Secrets of New York: Islands
NYC Media

Events

Gary Zebrun discusses his new book Hart Island with author Jim Shepard

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Gary Zebrun takes the Greenlight stage to present his absorbing and elegiac novel Hart Island, set on the real-life island east of the Bronx that has served as a potter’s field for more than a century. 

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Gary Zebrun discusses his new book Hart Island with author Jim Shepard

Past events

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