New York City

Island of Graves ‘Hart Island' in NYC Could Be Turned Into a Park

New York City officials are considering a plan to turn an island where poor and homeless people have been buried for 150 years into a park.

The City Council held a hearing Thursday on a proposal to turn Hart Island over to the Parks Department to be run as a park that would be reached by ferry.

The New York Times reports that Parks Department director of government relations Matt Drury said the department will support the transfer if the city curtails burials there.

The island off the Bronx is now managed by the city's Department of Correction. Roughly 1,100 unclaimed bodies are buried there each year in graves dug by jail inmates.

Last year, officials set out to Hart Island to collect human bones after it was reported that storms and the tides were unearthing the long-hidden bones, creating eerie scenes of skulls, femurs and collarbones on this sliver of land.

After photos of exposed bones began turning up in news reports, forensic anthropologists from the city medical examiner's office went out and collected 174 human bones that they carefully cataloged, including six skulls, six jawbones, 31 leg bones and 16 pelvises. 

About a million people have been buried on Hart Island since 1869.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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