It was originally named for Dr. Felix Brunot, who settled there in the late 1700s, building an estate. A flood in 1811 destroyed it, and by 1819 he had sold the island. It was used as farmland until purchased by George Westinghouse in 1894. Westinghouse built an electrical plant on the island.
Not long after that, a group of businessmen organized as the Pittsburgh and Allegheny Driving Club also built the Brunot Island Race Track. Friendly races were held each weekend. The track closed in 1907 but was still the site of aerial shows and races for a time after that.
The only bridge access to the island is for railroad use only. At one time, there was ferry service as well.