Mott Haven and Hart Island Chosen By Historic District Council as ‘Six to Celebrate’

Hart Island/Image via Historic District Council

Each year, New York City’s Historic District Council selects six neighborhoods across the five boroughs to celebrate and spotlight the rich histories and architecture.

This also serves to bring attention to areas that are in danger of losing their character with encroaching development and to that end, Mott Haven in the South Bronx has been selected as one of the six along with Hart Island, the world’s largest potter’s field off City Island.

As developers continue to descend upon the South Bronx like vultures, it’s important that we’re able to not only preserve our community and the people that reside there but also the beautiful architecture that has survived the turn of the centuries and the fires of the 70s.

Countless people have dedicated their lives to Mott Haven’s preservation for it to be lost due to callous developers who don’t care about knocking down historically significant buildings and places.

HDC says about Mott Haven:

After decades of neglect, investors and developers have turned their gaze toward Mott Haven, and tourism and business has followed. The neighborhood has three designated Historic Districts: Mott Haven, Mott Haven East and the Bertine Block, all of which boast beautiful and intact rowhouses, as well as houses of worship. To celebrate the historic and architectural contributions of the neighborhood and explore the powerful role they play in the future of the area, the Mott Haven Historic Districts Association formed in 2016 to ensure that long-term residents (and buildings) have an active, inclusive stake in the neighborhood’s renaissance. The group will launch an annual “Decorators’ Showhouse,” host walking tours and establish a strong organizational presence in the neighborhood to cultivate stewardship, foster conscious citizenship and guide new investment sensitively to this gem in the South Bronx.

Bertine Block Historic District in Mott Haven, 1 of 3 such districts in the neighborhood.

Meanwhile, over in the East Bronx off of City Island is Hart Island, New York City’s potter’s field where over 1 million people are buried (literally this is America’s largest public cemetery although not quite public since access is virtually prohibited).

A lot of attention has been given to Hart Island, and rightfully so, as groups seek out to provide better access to the general public especially to loved ones who would like to pay their respects without having to go through so much red tape to even get there.

John Doyle, a local resident who’s running for city Council District 13 which covers Hart Island said, “There’s a great deal of history on Hart Island. It’s sad that the Department of Corrections has allowed buildings that were still in use as late as the 1970s on Hart Island to deteriorate beyond recognition.”

“Hopefully this designation serves as a catalyst to bring resources to preserve the area.” added Doyle about Historic District Council’s recognition of Hart Island. 

HDC writes:

Unbeknownst to many, the largest public cemetery in the United States lies within the Long Island Sound just a stone’s throw from City Island in The Bronx. In existence since the Civil War era, over one million people are buried on Hart Island, but visitation is strictly limited, thus keeping the island shrouded in mystery. Working to uncover its historic significance, The Hart Island Project formed in 1991, incorporated in 2011 and has made immense progress to provide awareness, access, burial records and maps. In addition to advocating for public access and, ultimately, to transform the island into a park, the group is also working to illuminate the island’s history through public programming and a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.

Check out these videos below on Hart Island and as always, we love to see any feedback!


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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.