When you think of NYC, a lot of things come to mind: skyscrapers, lights, people and parks! Recently the idea of adding a whole new park to the scene has been proposed by city lawmakers, in possibly one of the most unusual locations out there.
Hart Island, just off the coast of the Bronx, has long remained under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections. Its remote whereabouts has kept it relatively mysterious, with many not even aware of its existence. What has its purpose been you might ask? Well, since the 1800s, its acted as the city’s official graveyard for those unable to afford their own burial (homeless, poor, stillborn etc).
Its remained untouched since the beginning, however talks about opening it up to the public as a waterfront park (accessible via ferry) have begun. This would of course mean that control would be transferred to the Parks Department, who expressed their support to assist in the transfer of the existing graves to another location.
Hart Island has been in need of a restoration for a while now and obviously the transition process won’t be an easy ordeal. Currently the number of people buried on the island is over one million, with approximately 1,100 new bodies arriving every year. The island’s small size can only sustain about another 10 years of burials, which is why it might be a good opportunity to start searching for a new free space (or just leaving the current graves and not bringing in any new bodies). The park idea has understandably been met with criticism by Bronx residents, the final decision is still pending to be passed by the Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio.
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