Atlas Obscura's Islands of the Undesirables, Part 4: Hart Island

An aerial view of Hart Island (lower right), next to City Island
An aerial view of Hart Island (lower right), next to City Island
Photo: dsearls

In a series titled Islands of the Undesirables on collaborative historical website Atlas Obscura, historian and journalist Bess Lovejoy highlights five of the New York islands where we have stored our sick, criminals and unwanted residents.

On Monday, part 1 of the series covered Roosevelt Island. Tuesday, part 2 covered Randalls and Wards Island.. Yesterday, part 3 explored North Brother Island and today, the series tackles The Bronx's mass grave Hart Island.

Today, Hart Island is the largest tax-funded cemetery in the world, with close to a million graves arranged in a vast complex of trenches. If you die in New York City and no one claims your body within a week, this is where you end up. It’s not just for John and Jane Does, but anyone whose family is too poor—or is otherwise unable—to claim them.

The full article is a fascinating short read on the history of Hart Island and it's million interred "undesirables."

Hart Island
Matt Coneybeare

Matt Coneybeare

Editor in Chief

Matt enjoys exploring the City's with his partner and son. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time eating, running, and working on cool stuff.

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