News

Hart Island’s Last Stand

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On June 5, the Department of Buildings, citing public safety, issued an emergency order for the “immediate demolition” of 18 institutional, residential and service buildings constructed on Hart Island between the late 1800s and the mid 1900s.

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Melinda Hunt Courtesy of The Hart Island Project

NYC Temporary Morgue Lingers, a Reminder of Pandemic's Pain

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As the medical examiner’s office prepares to close the temporary facility, the agency has stopped taking newly deceased people there, and investigators are working to contact relatives and determine final arrangements for the roughly 200 whose remains are left, spokesman Mark Desire said via email last week.

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New York Times

Hundreds of bodies of covid-19 victims are still in New York’s refrigerated trucks more than a year into the pandemic

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In a report to a city council health committee last week, officials with the New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner acknowledged that the remains of about 750 covid-19 victims are still being stored inside the trucks. Officials said during a Wednesday committee meeting that they will try to lower the number soon.

Dina Maniotis, executive deputy commissioner with the medical examiner’s office, said most of the bodies could end up on Hart Island, off the Bronx, where the has city buried its poor and unclaimed for more than a century

“We will continue to work with families,” Maniotis told the health committee, according to the City news site. “As soon as the family tells us they would like their loved one transferred to Hart Island, we do that very quickly.”

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Ted Shaffrey/AP

Rikers Inmates Will No Longer Bury The Dead Amid Hart Island Transformation

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“Hart Island has been treated as a topic of shame in this city, and it's largely been kept out of the public consciousness of New Yorkers,” Council Member and health committee chair Mark Levine, who sponsored pieces of the legislation, said during an oversight hearing on Hart Island Wednesday. “It should be a dignified place open to the public, not just to people who have loved ones buried there. A place which uplifts and celebrates the history, offers reverence to the stories of those who are buried there, including victims of the most recent pandemic.”


Mayor Bill de Blasio’s executive budget also includes more than $50 million in capital funding to demolish dangerous structures on the property. “The buildings are scary to people who visit,” said Melinda Hunt, founder of the Hart Island Project. “They're a reminder of Hart Island being managed by the penal system for a very long time.”

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©2021 Alon Sicherman and Sean Vegessi/The Hart Island Project

A Look Inside Hart Island, NYC’s Potter’s Field, as COVID Graves Grow

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Hart Island, a small piece of land off The Bronx, resurfaced in national headlines in April 2020, when New York City became the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

News footage of the island’s cemetery showed trenches being filled with pine coffins, sending shock waves around the world. But these mass burials taking place during the pandemic mark just the most recent interments in Hart Island’s long history.

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Vox and Columbia Journalism School
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Events

Storytelling tools for COVID-19 Webinar

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We’re please to announce the launch of our COVID-19 Initiative with new tools added to Traveling Cloud Museum for searching and claiming people who died from the pandemic in New York City and are now buried on Hart Island. 

The Hart Island Project is working to end the stigma for families who agreed to a City Burial. Please join us on Thursday, September 23, 2021 @7 PM for a webinar on how to claim and add stories or photos about someone buried on Hart Island who succumbed to COVID-19. 

REGISTER


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COVID-19 burials on Hart Island

Past events

Hart Island Suite Premiere

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Jazz composer Anita Brown received a 2019 NYSCA award with support from The Hart Island Project as fiscal sponsor. The work was scheduled to premiere in 2020 and delayed due to COVID restrictions. Hart Island Suite tells the story of Anita's elder sister, Julie, who was buried on Hart Island before Anita was born. 

See pdf announcement

Hart Island Poem wins Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award

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Plough will announce the winners of its first annual Rhina Espaillat Poetry Award in an online event with Rhina P. Espaillat and Plough poetry editor A. M. Juster. The winning poet donated her prize to The Hart Island Project.

Register to attend on YouTube


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courtesy Plough Publishing House

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. If you were unable to attend you can watch it on the link below..

Video of Meeting


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Anonymous AIDS graves on Hart Island - photo credit Sean Vegezzi ©2021 The Hart Island Project

Landscapes and Pandemics: The inequities of HIV/AIDS & COVID-19

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COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black and Latinx people, as well as LGBTQ+ people, many who are living at the intersections of multiple marginalized identities. Over the past year, several comparisons have been made between the rise of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the US in the 80s and 90s and the current COVID-19 pandemic. We will hear from leading academics and activists and learn what these pandemics mean for communities across the US.

REGISTER


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NYC COUNCIL HEARING: Hart Island and the City's Public Burial Process & Assistance Program

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The public is invited to attend this hearing and testify. If you are planning on testifying live via video conferencing, please register no later than 24 hours before the hearing. 


Each person who intends on testifying live should register separately. Persons who do not register in advance will not be permitted to testify live via video conferencing. 


If you are interested in viewing the hearing, but do not wish to testify live, the hearing can be viewed at  https://council.nyc.gov/livestream/.  


Written testimony may be submitted without registration by emailing it to testimony@council.nyc.gov up to 72 hours after the close of the hearing. Thank you for your cooperation. 


For questions about accessibility or to request additional accommodations please contact swerts@council.nyc.gov or nbenjamin@council.nyc.govor (212) 788-6936 at least 72 hours before the hearing. All other questions should be directed to me at ebalkan@nyc.council.gov.


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