Detroit's Belle Isle

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Just over a small bridge in the international waters of the Detroit River lies Belle Isle— a 982 acre island park created in the late 1800s.

Belle isle is to Detroit what Central Park is to New York. Both parks are urban oases  designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. A third of Belle Isle is covered by forests, lakes, lagoon and wetlands that are home to pheasants, owls, fox, white trout lily, wild garlic, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, small and largemouth bass, northern pike, channel catfish and more.  

The island once boasted a casino (now available for private events), and is still home to the oldest crew club in North America, The Detroit Boat Club Crew (founded in 1839).

The Beaux Art Belle Isle Acquarium (designed by Albert Kahn in 1904) and the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory gardens seem untouched from their original conception (though restoration efforts are actually ongoing).

There are  endless other draws to the Island, including beaches, hiking trails, a $1-a-ride giant slide, and the mid-July Detroit Kite Festival.

Today funds are being raised to create and maintain a Piet Oudolf garden  on Belle Isle (to rival his four season garden on The High Line in New York).

jane beck

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