For over 150 years, it has been the New York City Department of Correction’s solemn duty to manage burials on Hart Island. The Island serves as the City’s public cemetery and is the final resting place of over one million individuals. The NYC Department of Correction is committed to ensuring that the public has access to the island and has several services available to help the individuals find and visit their loved ones on Hart Island.
To contact the Department about Hart Island, please call the Hart Island Information Line at (718) 546-0911 or firstname.lastname@example.org. This line is staffed by a dedicated member of the Office of Constituent and Grievance Services Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. If you call outside of these hours, please leave a message and your call will be returned the following business day. All emails will receive a response within 24 to 48 hours, absent any extenuating circumstances.
The Department of Correction welcomes the public to visit Hart Island, pay their respects, and maintain vital connections to those that have passed away. The island can be accessed by scheduling either a public gazebo visit or a private gravesite visit. Gravesite visits are reserved for those with close personal ties to a decedent, including family members, chosen family members, close friends, and partners. Gravesite visits are intended to provide an opportunity for loved ones to spend peaceful time at the final resting place of the decedent. Gazebo visits can be accessed by the general public, as well as family and friends of a decedent.
For individuals wishing to visit the final resting place of a loved one, the Department offers gravesite visits to Hart Island twice a month, on weekends. A visitor who requests a gravesite visit is permitted to be accompanied by up to four (4) additional guests. Anyone wishing to visit a gravesite with more than four (4) additional guests should contact the Hart Island Information Line. The Department will make reasonable efforts to accommodate any such requests.
Gravesite visits are reserved for individuals with close ties to a specific decedent.
The Department offers gazebo visits on the third Thursday of every month at 9 a.m. Reservations for gazebo visits may be scheduled by anyone, regardless of whether they have a loved one interred on the Island. During a gazebo visit, visitors are escorted to a designated location at the gazebo and remain there for the entirety of the visit, with time to reflect on the memories of those buried on the Island. Many of the Island burial sites and monuments can be viewed from the gazebo and there is also a question and answer session with knowledgeable staff who work on the Island.
Reservations to Visit Hart Island
All visits must be scheduled at least five (5) business days in advance, but the Department will work to accommodate special requests when possible. If you need more information or assistance with schedule a visit to Hart Island, please contact the Department’s Hart Island Information Line at (718) 546-0911.
Availability for Gravesite Visits
Two (2) gravesite visit opportunities are available each scheduled day, one beginning at 9 a.m. and one beginning at 12 p.m. Each gravesite visit lasts approximately two (2) hours.
2019 Visit Schedule
September 15th and 28th
October 19th and 27th
November 16th and 17th
December 8th and 14th
2020 Visit Schedule
January 18th and 26th
February 1st and 9th
March 7th and 22nd
April 19th and 25th
May 16th and 17th
June 6th and 21st
July 19th and 25th
August 15th and 23rd
September 13th and 26th
October 3rd and 17th
November 14th and 15th
December 6th and 12th
By submitting the visit request form for a gravesite visit, a requestor will affirm a close personal relationship with a decedent. Documentation of a requestor’s relationship to the deceased is not required unless there is a reasonable basis for concluding that no relationship exists between the requestor and the deceased, in which case the Department may require documentation if it has been unable to confirm the relationship through other credible means.
How to Prepare for Your Visit
Prior to visiting, each family member or guest should sign and submit a liability waiver by emailing a signed copy to email@example.com, or mailing it to:
NYC Department of Correction
Office of Constituent and Grievance Services
75-20 Astoria Boulevard
East Elmhurst, New York 11370
A visitor may also provide a signed copy in person on the day of visitation, and blank copies of the liability waiver will also be available at the City Island dock on the day of visitation.
What to Expect on the Day of Your Visit
When visiting Hart Island, please consider any inclement weather conditions, especially during the summer and winter seasons, and dress appropriately. The island is accessed by a brief ferry ride from a dock on City Island, and all transportation on Hart Island is provided by the Department. Uniformed Correction Officers will escort all groups and individuals to their designated visit sites, but will maintain a respectful distance in order to allow for a peaceful visit.
Upon arrival at the City Island dock, all visitors are required to present valid photo identification and sign the Hart Island Visitor Book. The Department reserves the right to search visitors consistent with its security policy and works diligently to maintain a peaceful and respectful environment during visits to Hart Island.
Visit Availability and Limitations
Visits will be scheduled for the requested date unless accommodation for a request is not feasible due to inclement weather, no availability on the date requested because maximum capacity has been reached, and any other factors beyond the Department’s control. In such cases, the Department will make reasonable efforts to reschedule the visit for the next date requested.
If space is unavailable on the preferred visit day, the Department will contact the individual who submitted the request within three (3) business days of a request for a visit to modify the request or seek to reschedule the request. In the event that demand for visits exceeds capacity, visits for family members, chosen family members, and partners will be prioritized. Any other visitor whose visit needs to be rescheduled in order to afford a visit opportunity for a family member, chosen family member, or partner will receive at least three (3) business days notice.
If a deceased person’s specific gravesite is either unidentifiable or inaccessible for reasons that cannot be remedied before the date of the visit, the requestor will be notified in advance of the visit and may be asked to reschedule. Alternatively, the requestor is permitted to visit an alternate gravesite or other location reasonably proximate to the requested gravesite.
Directions and Transportation
The ferry to Hart Island departs from a dock in City Island located at the east end of Fordham Street.
There is no parking on the City Island dock and parking near the dock is extremely limited. All visitors are strongly encouraged to take public transportation or carpool if possible. The Bx29 bus stops at the intersection City Island Ave and Fordham Street, which is a ten (10) minute walk to the dock. All visitors are reminded to follow local parking regulations.
The Department has created a searchable database of Hart Island burial records dating back to 1977, which enables members of the public to determine if a loved is buried on the island. Records dated before 1977 are preserved by the New York City Municipal Archives, a division of the New York City Department of Records and Information Services. Some records were destroyed in a fire in the 1970s, and location information cannot be determined for these interments. The searchable database is available for public access to search for individuals by name, age, birth date, date of death, or by the assigned Medical Examiner number. The Medical Examiner number may be obtained through the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York City.
Please click the following link to access the Hart Island searchable database to determine if your loved one has been interred on Hart Island. If you know the plot number of your loved one, you can locate them on the Island by referencing a Map of Hart Island burial locations (Hart Island Map 1, Hart Island Map 2).
If you need more information about an individual record or assistance locating a record, please call the Hart Island Information Line at (718) 546-0911 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The Department has redacted personally identifying information from records of fetal remains in order to protect the personal privacy of family members. Any family member seeking information on fetal remains that may have been buried on Hart Island should call the Hart Island Information Line.
Upon confirming that a loved one is buried on Hart Island, families may request a disinterment and reburial elsewhere, such as in a private cemetery. The Department does not charge for locating and disinterring remains of the deceased.
To arrange for relocation and reburial of your loved one, you must contact a licensed funeral director, who will charge a fee for services. The funeral director will help with obtaining a disinterment permit from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Office of Vital Records. Once a permit is granted, the funeral director must mail the following documents to the Department of Correction:
The address to mail these two (2) documents is:
NYC Department of Correction
Facility Maintenance and Repair Division
75-20 Astoria Boulevard
Elmhurst, NY 11370
The Department of Correction will schedule the disinterment and coordinate with the funeral home for transfer of the remains. For more information, please contact the Office of Constituent and Grievance Services via the Hart Island information Line by calling (718) 546-0911 or by email at email@example.com.
Q: Who is buried on Hart Island?
Individuals are buried on Hart Island because their identity is unknown at the time of their death and a next of kin could not be located to arrange for burial services, because the individual’s family could not afford burial costs, or because the individual’s family preferred that their loved one be buried on Hart Island. The internment location of each individual is recorded and maintained by the Department.
Q: Who are considered chosen family members? Does the Department allow chosen family to visit?
Chosen families are non-biological kinship bonds, whether legally recognized or not, deliberately chosen for the purpose of mutual support and love. Chosen family members have the same access to Hart Island as biological family members.
Q: I am not a relative but would like to visit the gravesite of a close friend or co-worker. Am I eligible for a gravesite visit?
Individuals with close personal ties to a specific decedent are eligible for gravesite visits, however, visits for family members, chosen family members, and partners are prioritized. To discuss individual visits, please contact the Hart Island Information Line.
Q: How may visitors sign up to visit Hart Island?
Q: How many people can visit Hart Island during a visitation period?
The Department works to accommodate each request submitted for a visit to Hart Island.For each gravesite visitation period, there is a maximum of thirty-five (35) visitors that can be escorted to visit their requested gravesites. For each gazebo visitation period, there is a maximum of twelve (12) visitors that can be escorted to the gazebo area. The Department has the discretion to provide access for additional visitors when feasible.
Q: Can I take personal items on a gravesite visit?
Visitors are permitted to leave the following mementos at gravesites: flowers without vases, small stuffed animals, photographs, prayer cards, small flags, and blankets. The Department may require visitors to surrender electronic devices, which will be safeguarded and returned to visitors at the conclusion of the visit. When requesting a visit, requestors may seek permission to bring other mementos, which will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Q: Can I take pictures while I’m on Hart Island?
Film and photography while on Hart Island are prohibited without the express permission of the NYC Department of Correction. The Department offers two (2) Media Day visits to the Island per year for members of the media. For more information about Media Day visits, please contact the Department’s Office of Public Information at firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: I’m having trouble determining whether my loved one is buried on Hart Island, who can I contact for help?
You can contact the Hart Island Information Line by calling (718) 546-0911 or emailing email@example.com.
Q: What happens if my preferred visit day is unavailable?
Visits to Hart Island are scheduled on a first-come-first-served basis. When a visitation period reaches capacity, a waitlist is created for that visitation period. As scheduled visitors notify the Department of a cancellation, the Department reaches out to visitors on the waitlist to notify them that a scheduled visit has become available on their preferred day and add them to the schedule accordingly. Alternately, the Department will offer to schedule the visitors on a later date.
Twice a year, accredited members of the media may attend a two-hour tour of Hart Island. The tour can accommodate approximately five media outlets, with no more than two people per outlet. Participants on the tour are determined on a first-come, first-serve basis, and must complete the following forms beforehand: