Mystery shrouds mass grave site in the Bronx

NY Times columnist Nina Bernstein talks about 'Hart Island,' the mass grave site for the city's indigent.

- Most New Yorkers likely assume there is some type of potter's field for people who no one claims after their deaths, but few know that in New York City, there is a mass grave on an island in the Bronx.

NY Times columnist Nina Bernstein penned an article that includes drone footage of the highly secretive Hart Island near City Island and the Long Island Sound.

More than one million people have been buried there since it opened more than 150 years ago.

The indigent and the unidentified are among the dead there, but they're not the only ones.

"You could have a loving family, burial plot, court appointed guardian and still end up in Hart Island," said Bernstein.

The mass graves are essentially trenches hundreds of feet deep filled with bodies inside pine coffins.

Inmates from Rikers Island are paid 50 cents an hour to dig the ditches, according to the report.

No tombstones mark the graves and not until 2007 and a lawsuit, were visitors allowed onto the island but never near the graves.

“I think they really don’t want people to see what’s going on. It’s shrouded in secrecy," said Bernstein.

For the full story and aerial footage, visit

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