Burials on Hart Island, Where New York’s Unclaimed Lie in Mass Graves, Have Risen Fivefold

Many genealogists are familiar with the so-called paupers’ graveyard on Hart Island in New York City’s harbor. Many of our “missing ancestors” were buried there. See my earlier articles about Hart Island at https://blog.eogn.com/2019/12/06/new-york-citys-island-of-the-dead-to-become-more-accessible/ and at https://blog.eogn.com/2018/05/22/hart-island-a-potters-field-where-new-york-citys-poor-and-unclaimed-dead-are-buried/.

Now Hart Island has become busier than ever before, apparently because of the high death rate caused by the Coronavirus. According to an article in the Washington Post:

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the mass-grave burials of indigent New Yorkers whose families could not be found or who could not afford a private funeral have quintupled, officials said, growing from an average of 25 per week to 120. They’re happening five days a week now instead of one. And Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office confirmed “it is likely” that people who have died of covid-19, the savage respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, are among those being interred.

It’s a preferable alternative, officials said, to the worst-case-scenario plan that Mark Levine, a city council member and the chairman of its health committee, had said via Twitter was in the works: digging up public parks to serve as mass graves. Levine, whose tweet generated alarm and closer scrutiny of the city’s finite morgue capacity, later clarified that city officials had assured him the dead would not be put in parks. (Prominent parks around New York City were the sites of mass graves during previous pandemics.)

You can read more in an article by Jada Yuan published in the Washington Post at https://wapo.st/3bh6FPU.


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