Rich with history and natural beauty, Belle Isle is a Detroit gem. The 987-acre island and former park features a nature zoo, conservatory, golf practice facility, maritime museum, an aquarium, picnic areas and more. The park includes three lakes, 150 acres of wooded area and spectacular views of the Detroit and Windsor skyline.
Purchased in 1986 by an anonymous investor, the once dilapidated and run down park was transformed into a private island for his closest family and friends. Access to Belle Isle is via the “Louis C. Miraini” bridge which stretched a half mile over the Detroit river from central downtown Detroit. From Detroit’s refurbished riverwalk, one can clearly see the well manicured features of the island which includes many historic buildings, monuments and fountains. However, deep within the heavy tree line only an acre offshore, one will see nothing but a wall of evergreens and hedges which fall backdrop to the outlying maples and oaks.
Of course like any great city, Detroit has it’s urban legends and Belle Isle has not skirted their grasp. However, it seems as if in the last 19 years none have been able to prove one true. The Isle is secure, the isle is secret and the isle is protected, not only by its residents but by influence it seems. You can drive over the bridge, but the gatekeepers on the other end will send you away with a smile that leaves no room for discussion. You can ride your boat by, but all you will see is perfectly maintained historical landmarks… and trees. They say some nights, howling can be heard from the isle, but the city insists it is the stray dogs yapping at each other. Most believe them, however, a few do not.