There are dozens of islands in the waters around New York City, and many of them have rich and little-known histories. Perhaps the most fascinating of all of them is Hart Island, 131 acres of land just east of City Island at the western edge of Long Island Sound. Originally called "Heart Island" due to the fact that its footprint resembles the shape of the organ, the "e" was soon dropped.
Hart Island has been a prisoner of war camp a number of times; in the mid-19th century, it housed confederate POWs; in the mid-20th, it held POWs from World War 2. The island has also been home to a prison and a womens' asylum, a workhouse and NIKE missile base. But if the average person knows anything at all about Hart Island, it is likely the fact that, since 1869, the island has served as New York's sixth potter's field. Approximately 800,000 bodies are buried on the island, making it the largest publicly funded cemetery in the world.
In addition to the potter's field, which takes up the entire northern half of the island, and has now moved to the southern tip, there are a number of buildings remaining on the island.