Grief Tourism

Travel to areas affected by natural disasters, places where people were murdered, etc.

New York City’s Hart Island: ghost town, military base, cemetery

17th May 2007

This is an interesting story (with photos) of a tour on June 15, 2000. The site toured was Hart Island and the tour was provided by the New York Correction History Society.

Hart Island is said to be a ghost town with an abandoned church, asylum, and military base. The military base has Nike missile silos left over from the late 50’s and the cold war. These missiles were supposed to shoot Soviet ICBMs out of the sky before they landed in New York City.

But it’s not the abandoned military base that really qualifies Hart Island as a grief tourist destination. That distinction belongs to Potter’s Field.

Potter’s Field on Hart Island has been the burial place for New York’s unclaimed dead bodies since 1869. There are now over 700,000 bodies on Hart Island. This cemetery is unlike more famous and touristy cemeteries:

There are no ceremonies for the dead here on Hart Island.  Inmates from Riker’s Island are assigned burial detail and are ferried over to do the work.  Coffins are stacked beneath the ground–3 high, 10 across, 5 rows deep, between each of the white grave markers–crowding 150 adult bodies into each marked square.  Infant’s coffins are stacked in trenches and buried.

Comments are closed.