STORIES

“This was the first infant to die from AIDS in NYC.”

This grave on Hart Island, Bronx County, New York, is the only burial to have a personal marker. Ceremonies have not been conducted at the burial site since the 1950s, and no personal markers are set.

In 1985, a child was buried away in isolation from the other burial trenches in his/her own plot. This was the first infant to die from AIDS in New York City.

The stone is labelled SC-B1, 1985. SC, standing for “Special Child.” B1-standing for “Baby number 1.”

Hart Island is the largest tax-funded cemetery in the world. Burials on the island began shortly after the American Civil War. In 1869, the city then began using it as a cemetery. Burials of unknowns were in single plots, and identified adults and children were buried in mass graves.

In 1913, adults and children under 5 were buried in separate mass graves. Unknowns are mostly adults. They are often disinterred when families are able to locate their relatives through photographs and fingerprints kept on file at the Office of the Medical Examiner.

Adults are buried in trenches with three sections of 48 individuals to make disinterment easier. Children, mostly infants, are rarely disinterred and are buried in trenches of 1,000.

Over one million dead are buried on Hart Island. One third of them are infants and stillborn babies.