A photographic tour of Belle Isle

Belle Isle Park is Detroit's signature green space. According to the city of Detroit's records:

"Detroit's city fathers purchased the 983-acre island in 1879 for $200,000, against the opposition of those who thought the price was too high. They elected to retain the name Belle Isle (beautiful island) by which the property was popularly known.

"In 1883, the designer of New York City's Central park, Frederick Law Olmstead, created the master plan for Belle Isle's transformation.

"By 1889, visitors could enjoy the park via the island's first wooden bridge.

"Olmstead also helped select Cass Gilbert's design for the mammoth Scott Fountain, chosen over 93 other entries in a nationwide competition. Among Gilbert's other achievements was the design of the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

[nggallery id=19]

The Aquarium, designed by Albert Kahn, has been the focus of major renovation work by the Belle Isle Conservancy.

Gambling isn't allowed at the Casino.

The Nancy Brown Peace Carillon is 85 feet tall and "serenades island visitors with occasional musical chimes."

"An eccentric gambler James Scott, bequeathed his entire fortune for this huge, carved white marble fountain. Worth every penny," says the city of Detroit. The fountain needs extensive repairs that will cost another fortune -- $20 million to $30 million.

Albert Kahn also designed the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, modeling it after Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. "Its signature 85-foot dome shelters a wide variety of tropical trees, a continuous display of blooming plants, and one of the largest orchid collections in the country donated by Anna Scripps Whitcomb in 1953. The conservatory is free to the public and open year-round, including holidays."

Belle Isle is America's "largest city-owned island park."

A tugboat reminds that the waters around Belle Isle are working ones.

Swan boats at Belle Isle.

This sculpture is outside the Conservatory.

The Conservatory at Belle Isle.

Inside the Conservatory, Belle Isle guests will see all manner of unusual flora.

The General Alpheus Williams Statue honors the man who served in both the Mexican-American War and the Civil War.

The Scott Fountain has 109 water outlets in the shape of dolphins, turtles, lions and human figures.

Cavaliers depicted in the LaSalle Window at Dossin Museum on Belle Isle.

The Scott Fountain is 510 feet across, and its central fountain could spray water 125 feet into the air.

This image, of a ferry to the Bob-lo amusement park, can be found in the Dossin Museum on Belle Isle.

Like what you’re reading in Bridge? Please consider a donation to support our work!

We are a nonprofit Michigan news site focused on issues that impact all citizens. In an era of click bait and biased news, we focus on taking the time to learn both sides of a story before we post it. Bridge stories are always free, but our work costs money. If our journalism helps you understand and love Michigan more, please consider supporting our work. It takes just a moment to donate here.

Pay with VISA Pay with MasterCard Pay with American Express Donate now

Comment Form

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.