Socialite James Scott was said to have been lazy, eccentric, a prankster and a real rapscallion. He had inherited his money from his father — a successful real estate tycoon — and spent his days not working like the rest of his fellow Detroiters, but often gambling it away and being an all around man about town. He also made shrewd real estate investments that only added to his fortune.
When he died in 1910, his vast estate was left to the city to build a monument for the people. Of course, his gift came with a catch: The city also had to erect a life-size statue of himself.
The back of the chair holding Scott’s statue says: “For the enjoyment of the people and for the adornment of his native city. James Scott bequeathed to Detroit his fortune to be used in the construction of this fountain. Erected MCMXXIII. From the good deed of one comes benefit to many.”Source & Info ›
Inspired by the energy of Detroit after receiving a “love letter from Detroit” from The Garden Club of Michigan (GCM), Piet Oudolf designed this naturalistic public garden on Belle Isle. Both artistic and ecological by design, he chose perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees for their hardiness, durability, and ever-changing textures and colors for enjoyment in all four seasons. Oudolf Garden Detroit differs from other public Oudolf gardens in that it is run by its all-volunteer Grounds Crew.Source & Info ›
The Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory, featuring a collection of exotic plants, is one of the most visited and recognizable historic structures in Belle Isle Park and one of the oldest in the United States. The two buildings, designed by Albert Kahn, opened Aug. 18, 1904. On April 6, 1955, the conservatory was dedicated to Anna Scripps Whitcomb, who donated her 600-plant orchid collection to the city of Detroit. The conservatory boasts 13 acres, a formal perennial garden, seasonal floral beds, a lily pond garden and five sections of flora.Source & Info ›
The Belle Isle Aquarium opened on August 18,1904 alongside the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory and designed by the architects Albert Kahn and George D. Mason.
“At the time of its closure in 2005, the aquarium was the longest continuously running aquarium in the United States and the only aquarium in Michigan. Today, it has been reopened, enchanting another generation of little Michiganders.”Source & Info ›
The Belle Isle Nature Center is operated by the Detroit Zoological Society and offers a fresh perspective of nature in a an urban environment. The center is currently undergoing a $2 million dollar renovation in hopes to offer unique educational experiences for guests and local schools.
The Dossin Great Lakes Museum is an historical maritime museum in Detroit, Michigan. Located on The Strand on Belle Isle Park along the Detroit River, this museum places special interest on Detroit’s role on national and regional maritime history. The 16,000-square-foot (1,500 m2) museum features exhibits such as one of the largest collection of model ships in the world, and the bow anchor of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald, which went down in a storm in 1975.Source & Info ›
Formerly called the Detroit Boat Club (DBC), the Belle Isle Boathouse is one of the oldest boat clubs in the country. In 1996 the city of Detroit acquired the building resulting in the DBC organization to move elsewhere. Rowing activities from a separate DBC crew still operate out of the boathouse and the building is currently used as a public event space.Source & Info ›
The original structure, which was entirely made out of wood, opened in June of 1887. Due to the nature of the design, the Belle Isle Casino was rebuilt and opened in May of 1908.
The first Detroit Grand Prix was in 1982 and it started as a Formula One race through the streets of downtown Detroit before becoming a CART-sanctioned race in 1989. The race moved to Belle Isle in 1992.