High Island (Bronx)

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High Island
High Island, New York.JPG
High Island as viewed from nearby Orchard Beach.
High Island is located in Bronx
High Island
High Island
Location of High Island in the Bronx, which is in red
LocationLong Island Sound
Coordinates40°51′34″N 73°47′10″W / 40.859571°N 73.786159°W / 40.859571; -73.786159Coordinates: 40°51′34″N 73°47′10″W / 40.859571°N 73.786159°W / 40.859571; -73.786159
ArchipelagoThe Pelham Islands
Area0.02 sq mi (0.052 km2)
Length0.7 mi (1.1 km)
Width0.8 mi (1.3 km)
State New York
City New York City
Borough The Bronx
Population0 (2017)

High Island is a small, uninhabited, privately-owned island, part of the Pelham Islands in the Bronx, New York City. It lies east of the north end of City Island between City Island Harbor and Pelham Bay in Long Island Sound. It is connected to City Island by a sandbar that emerges at very low tide, as well as by a small private bridge.

Previously used as a stone quarry and then a summer resort, the island today is used to support two radio station transmitters and antennas.


High Island was once known as Shark Island due to the many sand sharks which used to swim in the nearby waters of Pelham Bay. The island is comparatively high with a shape similar to a gumdrop, thus alluding to the origin of its present-day name.[1]

Elisha King purchased the island in 1829 to quarry stones.[2]: 97  During the 1920s the Miller family operated a community of summer rental cottages catering to about 40 families.[2]: 111  In 1961, it was purchased to use for radio transmission towers.[3]

Current use[edit]

As of 2017, the entire island and two transmitters are owned by Audacy Inc.. It houses the transmitters and antenna towers for WCBS (880 AM) and WFAN (660 AM; previously known as WNBC), both of which are owned by Entercom. Previously, the WCBS facility was located on nearby Columbia Island in Westchester County, New York.[4]

On August 27, 1967, a small private airplane crashed into the radio tower, destroying the antenna and taking WCBS and WNBC off the air, the day before WCBS's all news format launched.[5] Both stations were able to borrow nearby transmission facilities for about a week, until an emergency tower could be erected on High Island. The permanent replacement was built with a second (shorter) tower as an emergency backup.

The taller of the towers is 167 metres (548 ft). The shorter tower is 91.4 metres (300 ft) and was built in 2001 to replace the emergency tower erected in 1967. The proximity of these two AM radio stations has, at times, caused interference on telephones and electronic equipment on nearby City Island. High Island is only an AM radio transmission facility. It does not have any studios or tower tenants, other than the two AM radio stations. Both WCBS-AM and WFAN-AM broadcast from studios located at the Hudson Square Broadcast Center in Manhattan.

The island is currently uninhabited. A full-time caretaker's residence was in use from 1961 to 2007. The island is currently maintained by the radio stations' engineers and contractors. Advances in broadcast and security technology have made remote monitoring of both the radio equipment and the physical property more feasible than in earlier years where a full-time human presence was required.


  1. ^ McNamara, John (1984). History in asphalt : the origin of Bronx street and place names, Borough of the Bronx, New York City. Bronx, N.Y: Bronx County Historical Society. p. 106. ISBN 978-0-941980-16-6. OCLC 10696584.
  2. ^ a b Twomey, Bill (2007). The Bronx, in bits and pieces. Bloomington, IN: Rooftop Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60008-062-3. OCLC 188850377.
  3. ^ "CITY ISLAND". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  4. ^ "WFAN/WCBS tower, High Island, Bronx". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  5. ^ https://www.fybush.com/site-030424.html

External links[edit]