September 23, 2015

Photo by author

There is something in me that loves an island. I live on one (Queens, New York, on Long Island, across the East River from the isle of Manhattan). I’m attracted to all kinds—those buried by volcanic eruptions; adrift in a blue void endless as the cosmos; locus of nearly extinct languages; and even the fictitious Island of Lost Souls ruled by the mad scientist Dr. Moreau.

But one island I recently discovered has fascinated me like no othersBannerman Island in the Hudson River, home to the crumbling ruins of a faux Scottish castle built 100 years ago to hold an arsenal of artillery, left-over ordinance from battles the world over. It is a place with no right angles, designed on the backs of envelopes—the fantasy-vision of eccentric international businessman Francis (“Frank”) Bannerman.