4. Hart Island is Historic
People have been buried on Hart Island since shortly after the Civil War – almost as long as historic cemeteries like Woodlawn in the Bronx or Green-Wood in Brooklyn have been active. And a lot has happened on Hart Island besides being a burial ground – it’s housed asylums, hospitals, reformatories, jails, and military bases among other things. Jacob Riis took his first photos on Hart Island, and the grave of the first child to die of AIDS is also located there. And there’s several old buildings on the island, including a chapel and a 106-year-old dynamo room. Hart Island – like Fort Tilden in the Rockaways – also contains a series of abandoned Nike Missile silos from the Cold War.
These buildings would need to be secured, if not totally rehabilitated, in order to have more open access to the island. Councilman Rodriguez named a 10 million dollar investment as what he was looking for.