|COLLIERS MAGAZINE ARTISTIC RENDERING OF NYC (NEW YORK COUNTY) MANHATTAN WITH A DETONATION OF A SOVIET ATOMIC WEAPON AROUND MIDTOWN VIA A LONG RANGE SOVIET|
New York City at risk, 1950--In "Hiroshima U.S.A." artist Chesley Bonestell imagined an atomic bomb attack on the city. Painted for the cover of Collier's, August 5, 1950 (reproduced courtesy of Bonest BOMBER GETTING THROUGH THE AIR DEFENSE NETWORK AROUND NYC
|PERIMETER FENCING AROUND THE HART ISLAND NIKE SITE WAS PATROLLED BY K-9 TEAMS AND JEEP PATROLS AS WELL AS SEARCHLIGHTS IN CERTAIN AREAS|
|HERE A US ARAADCOM UNIT EXPLAINS THE MISSION OF PROTECTION OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK NEXT TO A MOBILE LAUNCHER ARMED WITH A NIKE AJAX CONTAINING A H.E.High Explosive) WARHEAD NOT the NUCLEAR TYPE|
The site's headquarters and its Control Area (containing the site's radars and the ground-based missile guidance equipment) were located on Davids Island, near New Rochelle. Its Launcher Area (containing the missiles and< the launching infrastructure) was constructed on nearby Hart Island. By building on these two islands, the Army was able to quickly establish site NY-15 with a minimum of effort, avoiding the often difficult and contentious process of acquiring parcels of privately-owned land from individual owners.
MISSILE ASSEMBLY & TEST BUILDING (Ruins)
The fins and control surfaces of the missiles were attached within the building that stood here where also their internal guidance equipment was tested before they were moved to the adjacent fueling and warheading area. A portion of the curving concrete path over which the missiles were moved can be still be seen at the north end of the foundation.
The limited size of Davids Island, however, dictated that the Launcher Area containing the missiles had to be located elsewhere. Hart Island, located some two miles to the southwest, provided a relatively easy solution in this situation. The island was already owned by the City of New York. Due to its use by the Department of Correction, casual visitors were not permitted. Hart Island's proximity to Davids Island, and the clear and unobstructed "line of sight" between the two islands (an essential requirement of the Nike ground-based guidance and control system) made it an appropriate location for the Army's new missile launching facility.
|THE INSIDE OF THE IFC INTEGRATED FIRE CONTROL AREA ON DAVIDS ISLAND|
Brief History of Hart Island Nike Missile Site
-- The Cold War in LI Sound: Part III --
By Donald E. Bender
The entire base was enclosed behind steel cyclone type fences topped barbed wire and access was strictly controlled by armed sentries. Large warning signs, posted at regular intervals, helped to discourage curious boaters from attempting to land and trespass.
The base also contained a Generator Building featuring diesel generators that supplied electrical power to the missile site whenever an alert was called. Internal power was used during practice alerts in order to simulate actual wartime conditions during which the region's electrical power grid might have become unstable due to bomb damage, the electromagnetic effects of nuclear detonations or deliberate sabotage.
The Hart Island missile site and all of its "sister" sites within the New York metropolitan area were initially equipped with the first-generation Nike missile system known as Nike Ajax.Beginning in 1958, however, select Nike installations within the region were upgraded to fire a new, second-generation Nike missile known as the Nike Hercules.
The Nike Hercules missile represented a vast improvement over the Nike Ajax. It offered a higher maximum speed, improved altitude capabilities, and roughly three times the range of its predecessor. More significantly, the Nike Hercules could be armed with a powerful, defensive nuclear warhead enabling a single Hercules missile to destroy a formation of several attacking aircraft.
The greatly enhanced capabilities of the Nike Hercules system meant that fewer missile sites were required to defend the New York metropolitan area. Only 10 of the original 19 Nike missile sites in the region were upgraded to use the Army's new missile system. Some of the sites equipped with the new Hercules missiles remained in operation through 1974. By contrast, all of the unmodified Nike Ajax equipped sites in the region were inactivated by 1963. Probably due to its close proximity to the center of the New York Defense Area, Nike site NY-15 did not receive the new Nike Hercules missile system. It continued to operate its Nike Ajax missiles until it was finally inactivated during 1961.
NIKE BASE CLOSING
The Army presents NYC Correction Commissioner Anna M. Kross with a wooden propeller from a target aircraft in this digital version of the Hart Island Nike base-closing ceremonies photo. [From the NYCHS-maintained archives at the NYC DOC Academy.]
Battery "D" of the Army's 1st Battalion, 55th Artillery - the second and final unit to command this site - held its final inactivation ceremonies on June 30, 1961. During the ceremonies, the battery commander presented New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Anna M. Kross with a wooden propeller from a Radio Controlled Aerial Target or "RCAT." Also attending the inactivation ceremonies on Hart Island that day were the Deputy Correction Commissioner and the Hart Island Warden.
Following the deactivation of the Army's Nike facility, the New York City Department of Correction acquired the former Hart Island missile installation. On July 23, 1962, the DOC opened a new facility for the "housing of family court cases and traffic offenders". Commissioner Anna M. Kross presided over the opening. DOC PUTS BASE BUILDINGS TO USE
The caption for the above photo in DOC's 1962 annual report reads: "At the opening of the new housing quarters for minor offenders on Hart island, Director of Operations Anthony Principe, Commissioner Anna M. Kross and Warden Edward Dros review the potential of the new annex. Note the army-barracks huts in the rear. Inmate labor performs landscaping and maintenance chores." [From the NYCHS-maintained archives at the NYC DOC Academy.]
The Army's prefabricated, steel Utica-style barracks, left behind after the site was closed, provided accommodations for the island's new temporary residents. The Army's diesel-powered electrical generation facility remained in use and was operated for the DOC by inmates residing on the island.
Numerous relics of the Army's Hart Island missile launching facility remain visible today. Close to the island's northern end, the exterior surfaces of the two underground missile magazines are easily discerned. The adjacent fueling and warheading area remains intact, although its protective earthen berms are now heavily overgrown with vegetation. A rusted crane designed to lift and move missiles now stands idle near the center of this facility.
INMATES REPLACE SOLDIERS AT BASE
Under "Workhouse of the City of New York," the following text