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High Island, New York


High Island, New York

High Island as viewed from nearby Orchard Beach.

High Island is a small private island, part of The Pelham Islands group in the New York City borough of the Bronx. It lies east of the north end of City Island between City Island Harbor and Pelham Bay in Long Island Sound. It is an island at most times, but is connected to City Island by a sandbar that emerges at very low tide. It is also connected to City Island by a small private bridge.

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] In the early 20th Century it was privately owned with a community of summer rental cottages catering to about 40 families.[2] In 1961, it was purchased to use for radio transmission towers.[3]

As of 2010, the entire island and two transmitters are owned by CBS Radio, a division of CBS Corporation. 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 CBS. Previous to being on High Island, the WCBS facility was located on nearby manmade 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. 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 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. ^ History in asphalt: the origin of Bronx street and place names
  2. ^ The bronx in Bits and Pieces
  3. ^ City Island
  4. ^ WFAN/WCBS tower, High Island, Bronx

External links

  • USGS Report – High Island
  • Island in the City
  • WCBS-AM Website
  • WFAN Website
  • CBS Radio
  • Jim Hawkins' WCBS/WFAN Transmitter Tour

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