New York City’s Hart Island

Alexandra Marvar at The Believer:

Starting in the 1870s, and every year for the past fifteen years, journalists have told and retold the “hidden history” of New York City’s Hart Island, a hundred-acre city cemetery off the coast of the Bronx. Some fields are rolling and green with little white plot markers. Others are fresh brown earth, where individual coffins are buried in communal graves. Where there are not bodies, there are dry stone walls, woodlands, wetlands, and nineteenth-century brick ruins ringed by salt marshes and rubble. For over 150 years, the cemetery has been run as an extension of the prison system, difficult to visit, and this fact tends to capture the imagination.

Stories about it have often circled the same details: An island prison for the dead!Boxes of dismembered limbs and Civil War soldiers and bones all clacking together, forgotten in the dirt on a mostly barren piece of land shaped like the top of what else but a tibia bone, ever shrouded in fog, capitula and patellae protruding from its eroding edges.

more here.