Mass graves near Manhattan: Digging up New York's past
Hart Island holds a unique place in the life of one of the world's most vibrant cities. It is where the bodies of dead people go when they are unclaimed by others.
Since 1869 more than 1 million men, women and children have been buried on the island, usually in mass graves and with little ceremony.
In fact, the only witnesses are often jail inmates, who are paid by the city's Department of Corrections to carry out the sombre task.
The BBC met up with two people who want to make Hart Island more accessible to the public, and in so doing shed new light on the island's history.
Video by Anna Bressanin.