Hart Island is located in the northeastern section of the Bronx and can be reached by ferry from nearby City Island. While Hart Island is currently only used for city burials, the island has served many uses since the 19th Century, including a quarantine station, a psychiatric hospital, a tuberculosis ward, a reform school, a homeless shelter, a rehabilitation facility, a military base, and a jail.
In 1869, the City first began using Hart Island as a public cemetery for the burial of people who died indigent or whose remains went unclaimed after their death. Some of the first people buried on Hart Island included indigent Civil War veterans. Since 1985 thousands of individuals who died of AIDS-related illness have been buried on Hart Island, including the first child to die in New York City of AIDS-related illness, whose grave is indicated with a marker which reads "SC (special child) B1 (Baby 1) 1985." In 1991, the City ended all other uses of the island except as a public cemetery.
In 2021, management of Hart Island was transferred from the NYC Department of Correction to the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation and the NYC Department of Social Services, as per an inter-agency Memorandum of Understanding.