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

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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

Founder, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief

Matt enjoys exploring the City's food scene with his Wife and the outdoors with their three dogs. He is an avid marathon runner, and spends most of his time working from a treadmill desk at home.

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