One Million American Dreams
A priest stands in an Irish cemetery at the graveside of his
A family scatter their father’s ashes on the Malécon in Havana,
four years after his death and 25 years since they last saw
A Vietnam Veteran carries the flag of the African American
coloured troop along New York’s sun-kissed 5th Avenue on
A 33-year old female dental nurse walks along a deserted
boardwalk on the Jersey shore.
A Puerto Rican mother administers prescribed medication to each
of her three children in a sparsely furnished, 13th floor Bronx
A homeless man asleep on a vent in midtown Manhattan.
These disparate group of characters are all linked by one fact
– in life, they’re all linked by death.
Each of them has personally witnessed the dark side of the
Hart Island is a forbidden place. Prison guards patrol it 24
hours a day.
There’s very little life on this 105-acre site, a hidden jewel
of an island in Long Island sound.
But despite being just 16 miles from the twinkling lights of
downtown Manhattan, relatively few of the city’s inhabitants
are aware of it and what happens there every day of the year.
While mass immigration across the last 150 years helped New
York become the most iconic city in the world, many of those
who came to the city chasing the American dream met hurdles
they simply couldn’t overcome. Stricken by poverty, race and
misfortune, the one million New Yorkers who lie on Hart Island
represent the harsh underbelly of that American dream.