The Department of Transportation's regular Hart Island ferry Michael Cosgrove, undergoing its annual inspection, was unavailable. But the contract substitute launch Miller's Girls, that provides backup to the Cosgrove, was in service. It ferried the former residents to the island that had once been their home.
They were escorted by NYCHS' general secretary, by City Island Museum founder/curator and NYC Tax Commissioner Virginia Gallagher, and by Correction Officer Michael Cassara of DOC's Support Services Division that conducts City Cemetery operations on the island. Earlier the vessel had transported the inmates and officers involved in Potter's Field burials and grounds maintenance.
Returning to the island were
All three former residents had thought a return visit would not be possible, given the Department of Correction's long-standing restrictions on access due to security considerations. However, NYCHS has been able to work out special arrangements with DOC to conduct specific history-focused tours, with certain conditions and limitations, on particular agreed-upon dates.
As they disembarked onto Hart, Mary and Pat began swapping recollections about the first few buildings encountered nearest its ferry slip: the Security Checkpoint, the Ferry Waiting Station, and the Inmate Visit House.
Pat noted that back when she lived on the island, her family's residence was a short distance from the ferry slip -- in fact, in sight of it. When she was a young lady dating the young man who eventually became her husband, their saying good-night at the front door became a problem. As Pat recalled, still indignant as if it had happened only the day before, the couple "would hardly get to the house" before the crew would begin sounding the horn summoning her beau back so the ferry could begin its return trip to City Island. There was no ferry horn sounded years later at their wedding on City Island. "[Correction] Commissioner [Anna M.] Kross attended it," Pat remembered.
Identifying the largest building nearest the ferry slip as the Inmate Visit House, Mary remarked, "There used to be booths in that building with glass partitions to separate the visitors from the inmates." But, recalled the former NYPD attorney, even though no physical contact between visitors and inmates was permitted, a persistent few still tried smuggling drug by soaking thin materials, like thread and paper, in narcotic solutions; letting them dry to harden, and then squeezing them beneath the glass partition panels.
Go-Home-to-Hart starter ----------- Hart Island Menu page ----------- Next Go-Home-to-Hart page