The "Belle Isle" is an island in the Detroit River, which is connected to the mainland via the MacArthur Bridge. The island is a park with small bays, beaches, lakes and a small forest. Worth seeing is the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Conservatory, the James Scott Memorial Fountain and the legendary Detroit Yacht Club. The island is about 4.5 kilometers long and about 750 meters wide. Unlike in European parks, it is allowed to drive through the park by car. There is a three-lane one-way street that circles the park.
Honoring the Fountain of James Scott is one of the attractions on Belle Isle. James Scott was a spoiled heir to a real estate empire that had a very bad reputation in Detroit. When he died in 1910, he bequeathed to the city of Detroit his considerable fortune to build a well for him. Many inhabitants of the city were of the opinion that such a person should not set a monument. The Mayor Philip Breitmeyer found the offer financially too sexy to give it up. So James Scott got his last will.
The famous architect Cass Gilbert, who had built, among others, the Woolworth Building in New York and the United Sates Supreme Court in Washington DC, got the order. Together with the sculptor Herbert Adams, the James Scott Memorial Fountain was realized at the top of Belle Isle. The marble fountain has a diameter of 160 m, the Fontaine blows 38 m into the sky. James Scott actually wanted to stand on top of the well, but his bad reputation was only enough for a seat behind the fountain.
The Belle Isle Botanical Garden was named after Anna Scripps Witcomb, who bequeathed her orchid collection to the city of Detroit. The Belle Isle Conservatory was designed together with Albert Kahn's aquarium. Albert Kahn was the star architect of the time, he also designed the Fisher Building and the General Motors Building. The greenhouse was built on the model of the Kew Gardens in London. It consists of 5 different zones: palm house, tropical house, fern house, cactus house and the exhibition house with orchids. The Anna Scripps Witcomb Conservatory opened in 1904 and is the oldest surviving greenhouse in the US.
The aquarium was built together with the greenhouse in 1904. Both buildings were then connected. The aquarium consists of a long barrel vault covered with green glass tiles. It gives the impression that you are underwater. By today's standards, the Belle Isle Aquarium is small but at the time of its opening it was the third largest aquarium in the world. Due to decreased visitor numbers, the Aqarium 2005 was closed. Since 2012, the aquarium has been run by volunteers who finance the maintenance of the building through donations. Admission is free but you should throw a few bills in the donations box.
The Detroit River is actually not a river, it is the connection from Lake Huron to Lake Erie. The Detroit River is the border between the United States and Canada. This narrow waterway was the reason for the founding of Detroit. From the Riverfront Trail in Windsor (Canada) you have the most beautiful view of the Detroit skyline. The Riverwalk in Detroit is a promenade along the river bank. The Riverwalk stretches between West Riverfront Park and Belle Isle. The approximately 6-kilometer path along the water is repeatedly interrupted by private land, but the route is still suitable for cycling or walking.
Of course, there is also a beach on an island. Belle Isle Beach is on the north shore of the island. There is parking and a beach house. The weather in Detroit is not often suitable for swimming so the beach is also used to go for a walk. In autumn, migratory birds gather here on their way south. From the beach you can see the MacArthur Bridge with the Skyline of Detroit in the background. North of Belle Isle Beach is the Detroit Yacht Club.
Lake Erie is one of the "Great Lakes" and begins a few kilometers south of Detroit. With 25,600 sq km, Lake Erie is only the fourth largest of the 5 Great Lakes. In the past Heavy Industrie along the shorelines has poluted the water of the lake. But as the industry of the "Rustbelt" has declined the water quality of the lake has improved. On the picture you can see "Huntington Beach" near Cleveland, Ohio.