- Belle Isle Park
park=Belle Isle Park
caption=James Scott Fountain and Belle Isle Casino
City of Detroit)
status=Open all year
Belle Isle is a 982
acre(3.9 km²; 2.42 sq mi) island park in the Detroit Rivermanaged by the Detroit Recreation Department. It is connected to the rest of the city by the MacArthur Bridge. It is the largest island park in the United States.
It is home to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (1904), the
Detroit Yacht Club, the Detroit Boat Club, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, a Coast Guard post, and a municipal golfcourse. The city maintains a Nature Center where visitors are able to traverse wooded trails and view wildlife natural habitats. The island includes a half-mile (800 m) swimming beach.
The island was settled by French colonists in the 18th century, who named it "Île aux Cochons" (Hog Island). The Island was once the estate of General
Alexander Macomb, Jr.whose monument stands in the Washington Boulevard Historic District. In 1845 it was given its present name. The island was landscaped in the 1880s by Frederick Law Olmsted, a prominent urban park designer. The 1908 Belle Isle Casinobuilding is not an actual gamblingfacility but rather, is used for occasional public events. A highlight of Belle Isle is a beautiful botanical gardenand the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory(1904), the nation's oldest conservatory. Both the casino and the conservatory were built by Detroit architect Albert Kahn, who designed city landmarks such as Cadillac Placeand the Ford Rouge Factory. The island park has served a as a staging grounds by the U.S. military during World War II. It was a reenactment of a Pacific island invasion by the Navy and Marine Corps. The island was temporarily renamed Bella Jima and Detroiters were treated to the sight of an island invasion without the bloodshed. It was conducted after the invasion of Iwo Jima. Architect Cass Gilbertdesigned Belle Isle's "James Scott Memorial Fountain". Gilbert's other works include the U. S. Supreme Court building in Washington, DC.Lochbiler, Don (November 7, 1997). [http://info.detnews.com/redesign/history/story/historytemplate.cfm?id=193 Detroit's fountain of mirth] Michigan History, "Detroit News". Retrieved on January, 6 2008.] The William Livingstone Memorial Light on Belle Isle is the only light tower in the nation constructed of marble. [http://lighthouse.boatnerd.com/gallery/Detroit/default.htm Lighthouses of the Great Lakes] . Retrieved on November 23, 2007.]
The island was home to a large herd of European
fallow deerfor more than 50 years. However, this isolated population fell prey to disease at the close of the 20th century. The children's zoo on the island and the aquarium closed due to budget constraints. In 2004, the last of the 300 animals were captured and moved to the zoo property where some will remain as exhibits when it reopens as a nature center.
acre(3.9 km²; 2.42 sq mi), Belle Isle Park is the largest city island park and is larger than Central Parkin New York City, also designed by Olmsted. Although Belle Isle is the largest island park, it is not the largest island near a major city. Key BiscayneIsland adjoining Miami, Floridais convert|1200|acre|km2 and includes a residential area with a smaller park than Belle Isle. Detroit's River Rouge Park is convert|1172|acre|km2. The City's Parks and Recreation Department manages convert|6000|acre|km2 of parks. The Huron-Clinton Metroparksauthority manages an additional convert|24000|acre|km2 of parks.
Additional recreational options include a nature center, wheelchair accessible nature trail, playground, picnic shelters, and tennis and basketball courts and baseball fields. In the 1940s there was a canoe concession and a band shell, and canoe riders often stopped nearby to enjoy the concert.
William Livingstone Memorial Light, the only marble lighthouse in the United States, is on the east end of the island, and had surprisingly sumptuous materials and architecture. [ [http://www.lighthousefriends.com/light.asp?ID=163 William Livingstone Memorial Light] ]
In 1992, a temporary street race circuit was constructed on the isle for CART races. The island hosted ten events at Belle Isle from 1992-2001, and racing resumed in 2007 as part of the IndyCar Series and ALMS.
Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory (1904) is a
greenhouseand botanical gardenin Detroit, Michigan, United States. It covers 13 acres located three miles (4.8 km) east of the city's downtown on Belle Isle. It is open to the public free of charge every day of the year.
It is the nation's oldest conservatory, built in 1904, designed by noted architect Albert Kahn, and rebuilt 1952-1954 with aluminum replacing its original wooden beams. In 1953 it was named in honor of Anna Scripps Whitcomb, who left her 600-plant
orchidcollection to the city. Thanks to her gift and subsequent donations, the conservatory is now home to one of the largest municipally-owned orchidcollections in the United States. Rare orchids were saved from Great Britain during the World War II bombing and transported to the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory.
The conservatory site contains formal perennial gardens, annual flower beds, a rose garden, and lily pond garden. The conservatory itself covers more than an acre, features an imposing central dome 85 feet (26 m) high (with a total volume of 100,600 cubic feet), and is organized as a palm house in the dome, the north and south wings, and a show house. The south wing contains tropical plants of economic importance such as
bananas, oranges, coffee, sugar cane, and orchids. The north wing hosts the extensive collections of ferns, cacti and succulents. The show house, remodeled 1980-1981, features a continuous display of blooming plants.
Dossin Great Lakes Museum
Originally founded in 1949 as the City Maritime Museum, aboard the J.T. Wing wooden
schooner, which was the last commercial sailing ship on the Great Lakes, the museum was shuttered by 1956, because of the deteriorating condition of the schooner.
With $125,000 worth donations from Detroit's Dossin family, and a matching subsidation by the city's historical commission, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum broke ground on May 21, 1959, and was opened on July 24, 1961, at the former Belle Isle location of the J.T. Wing. [ [http://info.detnews.com/history/story/index.cfm?id=34&category=government The Detroit News Archives - Review Mirror Section, Accessed April 16, 2007] ]
The Dossin Museum, after a 10-week renovation, re-opened to the public on March 24th, 2007 after over $100,000 in refurbishments. The renovation added four new exhibits, and the museum will rotate exhibits more often than in previous years. [Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle reopens - Detroit News, March 24, 2007]
*The Miss Pepsi, one of the fastest
hydroplaneracing boats of all time
*The massive bow anchor of the legendary
SS Edmund Fitzgerald
SS William Clay FordPilot House, where visitors can “be the captain” of one of the city’s most noted freighters
*The restored smoking lounge of the S.S. City of Detroit III, which transports visitors back to the golden age of steamers
*One of the largest known collection of scale model ships in the world [ [http://www.detroithistorical.org/aboutus/dossin.asp About Dossin Great Lakes Museum] ]
Architecture of metropolitan Detroit
Belle Isle Aquarium
Detroit Boat Club
Detroit International Riverfront
Detroit Yacht Club
List of botanical gardens in the United States
List of maritime museums in the United States
References and further reading
*Cite book|author=Fisher, Dale|title=Detroit: Visions of the Eagle|year=1994|publisher=Grass Lake, MI: Eyry of the Eagle Publishing|id=ISBN 0-9615623-3-1
*Cite book | author=Hill, Eric J. and John Gallagher | title= AIA Detroit: The American Institute of Architects Guide to Detroit Architecture| year=2002 | publisher= Wayne State University Press | id=ISBN 0-8143-3120-3
*Cite book | author= Rodriguez, Michael and Thomas Featherstone| title=Detroit's Belle Isle Island Park Gem (Images of America)| publisher=Arcadia Publishing| year=2003| id=ISBN 0-7385-2315-1
*Cite book | author= Sharoff, Robert | title=American City: Detroit Architecture| publisher=Wayne State University Press| year=2005| id=ISBN 0-8143-3270-6
* [http://www.ci.detroit.mi.us/recreation/centers/M/belle_isle/belleM.htm Belle Isle Park, Detroit]
* [http://www.dyc.com/ Detroit Yacht Club]
* [http://www.glmi.org/ Dossin Great Lakes Museum]
* [http://www.detroithistorical.org/aboutus/dossin.asp About Dossin Great Lakes Museum]
* [http://www.glmi.org/webcam/ Remote-controllable webcam on the island]
* [http://hometown.aol.com/budatlitho/division10/belleil.htm Belle Island Coast Guard Post]
* [http://travel.michigan.org/detail.asp?m=2&p=B564 Public Aquarium]
* [http://www.bibsociety.org/sys-tmpl/door/ Belle Island Botanical Society]
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