News

Lost in the Pandemic: Inside New York City’s Mass Graveyard on Hart Island

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No one knows who will be carried across the water to Hart Island on the next waves of the dead. No one knows who will be brought back from its anonymous earth by shovel-bearing workers in hazmat suits. This summer, reporter William Hennigan was granted unprecedented access to Hart Island to observe burial and exhumation operations and, on June 26, witnessed the retrieval and formal reburial of casket 40-3 and its occupant, Ellen F. Torron. This is her story.

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Sasha Arutyunova for TIME

New York City COVID-19 Death Toll

As #Covid19 victims are laid to rest in NYC's public cemetery — the largest mass grave in the U.S. — the Hart Island Project aims to support their families and increase awareness of the island's history

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NYC’s potter’s field has buried nearly 900 people during coronavirus outbreak

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New York’s potter’s field became an unlikely savior during the coronavirus crisis — more than quintupling its usual pace of burials during the height of the pandemic, new stats show.

With funeral homes and morgues overflowing with corpses as the disease ravaged the city, Hart Island took 894 bodies between March 9 and Friday.

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'New York City’s family tomb’: The sad history of Hart Island

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Coronavirus has created a grim new reality at the nation’s largest mass grave. 

Only 11 miles from Manhattan, Hart Island has been the final resting place for New York’s unclaimed and poor for over a century. The island off the Bronx was thrust into the national spotlight in early April, after the city announced it would be using the public cemetery to inter unclaimed victims of covid-19.

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Elyse Samuels and Adriana Usero - Washington Post

New York’s public burial ground becomes a way-stop between the morgue and cemetery

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Occupying 131 acres in Long Island Sound, off the Bronx shore, Hart Island is the largest public burial ground in the United States. It has been New York City’s public burial ground for more than 150 years. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is being pressed into service as a temporary resting place for deceased New Yorkers whose families could not retain a funeral home.

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Yahoo News
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Past events

Mourning at a Distance: Grief and Memorialization During COVID-19

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One of the cruelest aspects of COVID-19 is that its victims often die alone. This fact not only dramatically affects those lost to the virus, who frequently pass away by themselves in a hospital amid relative strangers, but also the emotional health of the loved ones they leave behind. The highly contagious nature of the virus has made the traditional rituals surrounding death nearly impossible. There is no bedside vigil; no proper funeral; no grieving periods that involve the tender touch of family and friends and many of the deceased are buried on Hart Island which is now inaccessible to families and friends.  Melinda Hunt will be a panelist on this webinar. Register


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Sites of Conscience

Death Speaks to New York City Premiere

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At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City, 150 years of inmate labor suddenly ended. This video shows the last day of prison inmates burying the dead on Hart Island on April 2. Additional evening screenings at BPL will continue throughout the summer.


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Death Speaks to New York City ©2020 Melinda Hunt/The Hart Island Project

The Hart Island Project AIDS Initiative presents: You Won't Be Forgotten

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This workshop features a video with Belinda Brecska whose father Felix Reyes was buried on Hart Island in 1993. Belinda returns to the Bronx on June 20, 2019 but was misinformed about gazebo visits on that day. 

View Film: https://www.hartisland.net/aids_initiative

RSVP: staff@hartisland.net


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You Won't Be Forgotten still from AIDS Burials on Hart Island webseries

The Hart Island Project Annual Meeting

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The Hart Island Project Annual Meeting is open to the public and will take place on Zoom. Please join us at 10 AM. Link to join meeting


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The Hart Island Project AIDS Initiative presents: Everybody is Somebody

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This workshop features a video with Martha Wade whose cousin Shawn Ross was buried on Hart Island in 2005 when his mother refused to collect his body because he was gay. Martha learned about Hart Island in 2019 while watching the television series Pose. 

View Film: https://www.hartisland.net/aids_initiative

RSVP: staff@hartisland.net


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Everybody is Somebody/The Hart Island Project
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