Hart Island — Potter’s Field

An example of the ‘unwanted’ being hidden on the margins of the city and society, inaccessible and unknown.

This small island in the Long Island Sound, near Riker’s  and City Island, has,  since the 1860’s when it was bought by the city, been home to a prison, several hospitals, a workhouse, a Nike missile site launch in the 50’s, and lastly, Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol re-hab facility, which closed in 1976.   Since 1869, it has been the city’s Potter’s Field  with over 750,000 buried in mass graves — the unknown and unclaimed, as well as the bodies of the those whose families could not afford a private burial,  including thousands of still-born children.


Melinda Hunt has been working to make the cemetary’s history open and to help families find where their relatives have been buried.


The island is managed by the Department of Corrections which handles all burials and is completely off-limits unless you are a family member.



1 Comment»

  jessica wrote @

Great site. I copied this info into the tag you set up on google maps. There is no need to post the tag info to the website anymore, since the google maps markers can hold rich media descriptions.


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