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Hart Island contains one of the largest Potter's Fields in the U.S. It is currently run by the New York City Department of Corrections and the indigent are buried there with convict labor. You take a ferry from City Island.

Aaron: We'd be on Orchard Beach and somebody would say something... there's a lot of insults. And that was common, and its possible to do insults in such a way... it's personal, but it's normal and so everybody does that. So one of 'em would point to the Island (Hart Island) and say, "Shithead, that's where you're headed." And they'd say, "Yeah, you can't afford to go there. Even the poor people don't want you." And they'd say, "that's alright. We put you underground and nobdy will see you. And you know what, the only thing they'll know, they'll know that you stink. That's the only thing they will know. " And then somebody would push somebody and the third guy would say, "O.K. guys, cut it out. Get into the damned water and drown but don't fight."

And that was Hart Island. You could see it. You could see an island there. And people would just point to it and then they'd make up stories.

David: Do you know how many people are buried out there?

Aaron: I don't know... but it's not a small number.

David: 450,000

Aaron: Yeah, and I knew every one of them. (laughs).

 

 

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All photography copyright Dave Beckerman.