Hart Island — Where NYC’s Unclaimed Dead Go to Be Buried — Will Now Be More Accessible to Families

About 1 million people are buried on the desolate Hart Island by inmates of Rikers Island, many of whom anonymously and unclaimed

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AFP via Getty Images

What to Know

  • The New York City Council has voted to make Hart Island, the nation's largest public burial ground, more accessible to families of the dead
  • About 1 million people are buried by inmates of Rikers Island on the desolate island, many anonymously and unclaimed
  • In recent years, erosion has washed remains into Long Island Sound

The New York City Council has voted to make Hart Island — the nation's largest public burial ground — more accessible to families of the dead.

By a vote of 45-2, the council opted on Thursday to transfer control of the potter's field from the Department of Correction to the parks department.

About 1 million people are buried on the desolate island, many anonymously and unclaimed. Graves are dug by prisoners of nearby Rikers Island jail, and the island off the Bronx is reachable only by an occasional ferry.

In recent years, erosion has washed remains into Long Island Sound.

Families who have located their loved ones have difficulties visiting graves under security imposed by prison authorities.

The city is considering public transportation stops that would expand access.

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