Belle Isle Park
USINFO | 2013-05-20 13:18

Belle Isle is a 982-acre (1.534 sq mi; 397 ha) island park in the Detroit River, between the United States mainland and Canada, managed by the Detroit Recreation Department. It is connected to the rest of Detroit, Michigan by the MacArthur Bridge. It is the largest island city park in the United States and the third largest island in the Detroit River after Grosse Ile and Fighting Island.

It is home to the Belle Isle Conservatory (1904), the Detroit Yacht Club on an adjacent island, the Detroit Boat Club, James Scott Memorial Fountain, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, a Coast Guard station, and a municipal golf facility. 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.

At 982 acres (1.534 sq mi; 397 ha), Belle Isle Park is the largest city island park and is larger than Central Park in 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 Biscayne Island adjoining Miami, Florida has Crandon Park with about 800 acres (1.2 sq mi; 320 ha) and the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park with 400 acres (0.62 sq mi; 160 ha) and the island includes the residential village of Key Biscayne.

Detroit's River Rouge Park is 1,172 acres (1.831 sq mi; 474 ha). The City's Parks and Recreation Department manages 6,000 acres (9.4 sq mi; 2,400 ha) of parks. The Huron-Clinton Metroparks authority manages 24,000 acres (37 sq mi; 9,700 ha) of parks and beaches; however, this does not include all parks in the area. There are thousands of additional acres of parks in metropolitan Detroit.

he Belle Isle Conservatory (1904) is a greenhouse and botanical garden in Detroit, Michigan, United States. It covers 13 acres (5.3 ha) located three miles (4.8 km) east of the city's downtown on Belle Isle. It is open to the public free of charge Wednesday through Sunday 10am-5pm. (Check Belle Isle Conservancy for any changes.)

The Belle Isle Conservatory was 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 orchid collection to the city. Thanks to her gift and subsequent donations, the conservatory is now home to one of the largest municipally-owned orchid collections 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. Due to a lack of maintenance and budget cuts in recent years, the vast majority of orchids have now died.

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.
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