Back when I lived in New York, I would often wonder as I walked through Washington Square whether there were still bones beneath my feet from the square’s days as a potter’s field in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Well, I need speculate no more, as city archaeologists doing soil testing found at least three skeletons on the southern edge of the square this morning.
As the article mentions, New York’s current potter’s field is Hart Island, a small island in Long Island Sound, which was also a Nike missile silo site in the 1950s. According to this site, an estimated 750,000 people have been buried there since the Civil War. The site also has pictures of buildings and burial sites on the island.
Update, January 25: In a coincidental e-mail newsletter I received today from my college’s alumni group, I found out that the Hart Island site I linked to above is run by a fellow alumnus of Reed College. (Not someone I know; she graduated before I began). Melinda Hunt is involved in a project to identify over 50,000 anonymously buried people on Hart Island. You can read about it on the New York Times City Room blog here.