Hart Island is open to family members of the deceased who are buried there. It is possible that in the future Hart Island might truly become open to the public. It depends on what the New York City Council decides.
The Department of Corrections is responsible for operating and maintaining Hart Island, a public burial ground that is located on Long Island Sound. Hart Island is open to the public – sort of.
There are two types of Hart Island visits: general visits to a gazebo area on the island and burial site visits for family members of those who are buried on the island. Each type of visit takes place once per month.
The New York City Council had a hearing on December 2, 2016, in which they explored giving the public a chance to check out eight closed attractions. The problem that is preventing the attractions from becoming open to the public has to do with money. The Parks Department said they were limited by their resources to pay for repairs and to maintain the sites.
One suggestion, made by City Councilwoman Liz Crowley, was to have the Parks Department partner with nonprofit groups to help maintain the areas. She is the person who introduced a bill that would transfer jurisdiction of Hart Island from the Department of Corrections to the Parks Department – for the purpose of making Hart Island open to the public.
Here are the spaces the City Council wants to see open to the public:
North Brother Island: It is a 20-acre space just southeast of the Port Morris neighborhood in the Bronx. The area includes the former home of Typhoid Mary.
Prison Ship Martyrs Monument: This is a 108-year-old monument that honors the 11,500 men and women who died while being held captive on British prison ships during the Revolutionary War.
Grand Army Plaza Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Arch: It is located in Prospect Park. The attraction only opens its interior on occasion for art shows and performances.
Hart Island: It is a 101-acre potter’s field where numerous people are buried. The Department of Corrections currently owns the island.
The Croton Aqueduct: It was New York City’s first water supply system. It is 41-miles long.
New York State Pavilion: The Tent of Tomorrow in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park has been closed to the public since 1974 (due to poor conditions.)
Soldiers and Sailors Monument: A white marble monument in Riverside Park that pays tribute to Union soldiers who fought during the Civil War. The public can visit its exterior – but not the interior.
Washington Square Arch: The interior and roof of the 77-foot high arch are closed to the public (and only used for maintenance.)
Image from Wikimedia Commons
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