'It is very painful to have someone you love end up here'


Hart Island, New York City's potter's field, is crumbling from years of neglect. But now some politicians and advocates want to refurbish the place, allow more visitors and recognize its historical significance.

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Charles Eckert for Newsday

The New York Times Close-up


N.Y. Times Metro reporter and columnist Corey Kilgannon tells us about the quest to have Hart Island, the final resting place for the disenfranchised, open to the public– he’s joined by their advocate, Melinda Hunt, founder of The Hart Island Project.

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Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Hope Renewed For Unknown Thousands Among Hart’s Island’s Dead


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Action is finally being taken to stop one of New York’s most populated graveyards from falling into Long Island Sound.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Hart Island, a little known Potter’s Field in New York City, reports CBS2’s Natalie Duddridge. 

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CBS News

Finding space in New York City’s cemeteries


Just as the rural cemeteries of the 19th century radically reevaluated American approaches to death, it’s time to rethink what we want New York’s cemeteries to be in the 21st century. Hart Island, sequestered as it is and with limited accessibility, may not be a candidate for public programming, but it could be more integrated into the city with improved access, which would also alleviate the stigma of being interred in its isolated grounds.

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Max Touhey

Project Helps Locate Lost AIDS Victims Buried On New York's Hart Island


There's an island in New York City just off the Bronx that's used to bury the dead who are unclaimed, called Hart Island. During the AIDS epidemic when not much was known about the disease, many people who died of AIDS and whose bodies were unclaimed were buried there.

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Seth Wenig/AP
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Loneliness in a Beautiful Place: AIDS burials on Hart Island


Loneliness in a Beautiful Place: Drone video tour of AIDS burials on Hart Island and introduction to the Traveling Cloud Museum's new interactive map

Hart Island is the burial site of anyone who dies in New York City whose body is not collected by a licensed funeral director. The City does not cremate. On June 18, 1983, the New York State Funeral Directors Association urged its members not to embalm AIDS fatalities. It then became difficult to find a funeral director to handle the bodies of AIDS victims.
At least seventeen AIDS victims who died before 1985 were buried in individual graves at a remote location at the southern-most tip of the Hart Island. On April 29, 2018, a drone flying over the southern tip of Hart Island captured the locations of burial markers.
The Hart Island Project AIDS Initiative is an attempt to identify AIDS victims buried on Hart Island and preserve their stories. According to a recent story in The New York Times: “Trying to pin down the precise number of those with AIDS buried on Hart Island is difficult. A longstanding stigma about the island and criticism that the burial practices are crude and outdated have made city officials reluctant to provide many details.”
Traveling Cloud Museum is an effort to deconstruct their disappearance  by urging people to stop the clocks of anonymity.

See pdf announcement

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The Hart Island Project

Past events

Illustrated Talk with Author Stacy Horn – Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York


Author Stacy Horn will relate the chilling account of the infamous Blackwell’s Island (now Roosevelt Island), when it was managed by the Department of Charities and Correction. The workhouse, prison and lunatic asylum on Hart Island were branches of those on Blackwells. The Department of Correction still controls Hart Island today as the nightmare continues into the 21st Century on Riker's and Hart Island. 

$15, $10 MHM Members. Purchase tickets

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Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill

Hart Island Project Annual Meeting


The Hart Island Project board of directors invites you to meet with us on June 23, 2018 at Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights, NY 11201.

Enter at 254 Hicks Street and walk straight to the doors at the end of the sidewalk. Go through the doors and up the stairs directly to Guild Hall. Please let us know in advance if you require wheelchair access: 914-402-5992.

For more information send us an email. The media is welcome to attend.

See pdf announcement

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Annual meeting card

Mass for All Souls buried on Hart Island - 9 AM


St. Brendan Catholic Church is one block from the D train. For more information call 718-547-6655.

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©1992 Joel Sternfeld/The Hart Island Project

Historic Districts Council Preservation Conference 9:30 - 3:00 PM


Join The Hart Island Project at the Historic Districts Council for a Participant-Driven Preservation Conference: Open to the Public!

Vote to hear us talk about how the Civil War influenced burials in New York City. 

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2018 hdc conference postcard 1

Bronx Parks Speak Up


Notice how Hart Island is missing from this map of greenspaces in the Bronx? It's time to speak-up. Please join The Hart Island Project for the 24th Annual Bronx Parks Speak Up on Saturday, February 24 from 11am-5pm. The tabling and networking time will begin at 11 am and last until 12 Noon. A free lunch is provided and we will have HIP t-shirts and DVDs for sale. 

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Speak up 2018
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The Hart Island Project © 2018
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