Digging Hart Island, New York’s 850,000-Corpse Potter’s Field

Doc Searls Weblog 2013-09-23

Hart Island

Visitors to New York’s Orchard Beach (at the top of the photo above) probably don’t know that the low wooded island facing them in Long Island Sound will, at the current rate, top a million buried human bodies in the next few years, if it hasn’t done so already.

The site is Hart Island (aka Hart’s Island), and it is New York’s Potter’s Field: where the city’s unclaimed and indigent dead are buried by inmates employed by the Department of Corrections, which also controls the island. Visitors are not welcome.

I knew nothing about Hart Island until I found myself looking at the picture I shot of the place, above, while seeking information about something else. The stories of the place are fascinating, though bleak. So I compiled a list in a Fargo outline, which I’ve arranged below.

One item I’ll pull out of the list to start with here is The Hart Island Project, by Melinda Hunt (@hartisland) and a team of collaborators. Melinda has been leading a steady effort to open up the island and to humanize and modernize the records kept of persons buried there. Dig:

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