The Mass Grave Lingering Off NYC's Coast
Hart Island is a small piece of land between the Bronx and Long Island. Like most of the islands in that region, it was used for some shady-ass historical shit: a prisoner of war camp, a mental hospital, and a colony for tuberculosis sufferers. Those days are long past, however, and these days it's used for something a lot nicer. Yup, nowadays Hart Island is home to one of the largest mass graves in modern history.
Joel Sternfeld/The Hart Island Project
There is no chance it isn't haunted.
If you suffer a fatal encounter with a New Yorker, as so many encounters with New Yorkers go, and your body goes unclaimed for several weeks, it'll eventually be shipped out to Hart Island for burial alongside the 900,000 homeless, unloved, and children already there. Yeah, we said children-- it's estimated that a third of the island's residents are children whose parents couldn't afford a funeral.
That's what a potter's field is -- a place where people without the finances to afford a traditional burial are sent to be interred in anonymity by the state. There are no monuments, no headstones, and they only recently released a map showing the location of each mass grave. If you discover that you've got a relative resting on the island, you can only visit them for one day a month, an already-traumatic experience made worse by the fact that anyone visiting the island is treated like a criminal. And we mean that literally, because the island is run by the corrections department.
Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child