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Free tours now available on Hart Island

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The New York City Department of Parks has announced that free tours of Hart Island will be offered twice a month starting November 21, 2023.

Hart Island is located in the Long Island Sound just off the shore of the Bronx. It has been the final resting place of over 1 million people since the Civil War. It is a public cemetery for New Yorkers who could not afford private burials or who were never claimed by families. Previously the cemetery had only been available once a month for visitation days for those with family buried on the island.

The free tour lasts about 2 ½ hours and ferry transportation is provided to and from the island.  The tours will be given by the Urban Park Rangers. Tour dates include: Dec. 5 and 19, 203; Jan. 16 and 30, 2024; Feb. 13 and 27, 2024; March 12 and 26, 2024; April 9 and 23, 2024 and May 14 and 28, 2024.

When you register for one of the tour dates, you will be entered into a lottery. The lottery opens a few weeks before the tour date.  Guests will visit the historic chapel that is being preserved, a Civil War memorial and former missile silos among other selected sites.

In anticipation of opening parts of the island to the public,  the Department of Design and Construction recently completed a $32 million project to remove old structures from the island. The Parks Department has planted new trees, cleared overgrowth the was obstructing grave plots and added a landscaped seating area near the ferry dock.

To register, go to: https://www.nycgovparks.org/events/hart-island

(Map credit: US Geological Survey – Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=88959823)

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