The Wikipedia page for Hart Island says that

The only access to Hart Island is by ferryboat. Hart Island and the pier on Fordham Street on City Island are restricted areas under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Correction. Family members who wish to visit the island must request a visit ahead of time with the Department of Correction. New York City's government offers no provisions for individuals who want to visit Hart Island without contacting the prison system.

I'm not sure what the phrase "offers no provision" means in this context. Offers no assistance? Offers no protection? Will arrest? Oxford defines "provision" as

financial or other arrangements for future eventualities or requirements

So does that mean assistance? Meaning, if I try to get to the island myself without contacting the prison system, I technically can but the DOC will not help me? Or is there another definition that would result in my arrest?

  • 1
    NYC offers no facilities for casual visitors, or exemption from: "Hart Island and the pier on Fordham Street on City Island are restricted areas under the jurisdiction of the New York City Department of Correction." Presumably that means you are breaking the law unless you have obtained permission in advance. Feb 19, 2020 at 17:05
  • @WeatherVane I agree, and my takeaway is that it is, indeed, illegal; but what is the specific meaning of that phrase here, and what is the usage of the phrase in the broader context?
    – Yehuda
    Feb 19, 2020 at 17:12
  • 2
    In both this specific context and in the broader use, it is as the dictionary cites: "The action of providing or supplying something for use." NYC has not made the island available to casual visitors. Feb 19, 2020 at 17:17
  • The last sentence serves to emphasize everything before it, that the government provides no other choices to visitors. Feb 19, 2020 at 17:17
  • 1
    You would be arrested. Just swap in ways for provisions and apply this definition: an amount or thing supplied or provided. The thing supplied is ways. Feb 19, 2020 at 17:19

3 Answers 3


An item of goods or supplies, especially food, obtained for future use―this is the primary meaning. However Wiktionary also says that it may also mean "the act of providing, or making previous preparation."

The Wikipedia page for Hart Island uses the second meaning as hereinabove.


Presumably there are some rules/laws somewhere, stated or unstated. An element of a list of rules is often called a "provision". Cambridge:

a statement within an agreement or a law that a particular thing must happen or be done, especially before another can happen or be done


To ‘make provisions for’ literally means to prepare food (often), commonly for large groups, such as an army, or a prison population, as here. It means, counting up how much flour, eggs, and bread we have, to ‘feed the men’ ie make sure there is enough to keep everybody going.

‘Provisions’ in this sense, and especially when mentioned by an organisation like a prison, army or ship, usually means ‘food’. ‘Provision’ comes from the word ‘provided for’.

Now, in your question, you also say ‘offers no provision’ - without an ‘s’. This is quite a different thing - and is not what was said in your example paragraph which has an s - ie - ‘provisions’ - usually ‘food’.

So those are 2 different things with 2 quite different meanings:

  • provisions - usually meaning ‘food’ - often being provided so a group eg an army can achieve an objective
  • Provision - to make provision for - to provide facilities, services for you, that may include food but can also be any other needs - a waiting room, a road, brochures to look at, etc. Lit. ‘To allow for your needs’.

So, I think what your paragraph means is ‘bring your own food’. It also means ‘we are not catering for you’. And ‘you are on your own, kid’.

It could also mean that they are not undertaking to protect you - for example, from any escaped prisoner on the island who could do you harm. That would be your own problem.

So, if you do want to go there, I would:

  • let them know in advance
  • update your insurance
  • Make sure the return boat is running that day and the weather forecast is good
  • Take sandwiches and a raincoat


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