Plans to revitalize Hart Island in effort to welcome visitors in the works

Director Melinda Hunt of the Hart Island Project says that the plan will focus on changing the negative imagery associated with the city’s free cemetery.

News 12 Staff

Apr 1, 2023, 12:05 AM

Updated 476 days ago

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The city has plans to give Potters Field, located on Hart Island and known for being a burial ground for the city’s unclaimed New Yorkers, a makeover to make it more welcoming to New Yorkers.  
Director Melinda Hunt, of the Hart Island Project, says that the plan will focus on changing the negative imagery associated with the city’s free cemetery.  
Hunt says the city’s Parks Department will begin providing guided public tours of the island this year, which she says is a step in the right direction to removing that negative stigma, including the removal of many of the island’s crumbling structures.  
“There is a general feeling that’s a somber experience and many of these families want to celebrate a life,” said Hunt. “They are removing all the rubble from the building so the experience is better.”
In 2021, Hart Island was taken out of control from the city’s Department of Correction and transferred to the Parks Department to oversee its operations.  
The Parks Department provided a statement that said in part: “Hart Island will remain a solemn burial ground for New Yorkers and will continue to be the city’s municipal burial ground for the foreseeable future.”
Advocates say they’d like to see more open access to Hart Island by extending service on the New York City Ferry to the island.    


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