The Key to Safe Streets: Five Cities Humanizing Street Design
Case Studies 

Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

*Nominee 

Belle Isle Park

Detroit

MI

USA

Contributed by 
Mark Szczepanski
Project for Public Spaces
 on 
May 10, 2002
December 14, 2017

Detroit's foremost park, designed by Olmsted, is actually a series of individual islands connected by lovely bridges.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Belle Isle is the foremost park in the city of Detroit. Being an island, it is surrounded by the lovely water of the Detroit River, which is a strait connnecting Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie in the Great Lakes. Beautiful features, such as the Scott Fountain and the Conservatory, flock the island. The Detroit Yacht Club and the Belle Isle Casino are also present. Deer are present on the island, and "the island" itself is a series individual islands connected by lovely bridges. I feel that it is time that this little-known beauty be made available on a global scale.

Access & Linkages

Roads and paths make Belle Isle easily accessible. The island is connected to mainland Detroit (U.S. side) by a lovely bridge, the MacArthur Bridge.

Comfort & Image

Belle Isle, while still looking lovely, has decayed somewhat, like most of the city. However, you can still see the natural and architectual beauty of the island, and great potential has always been present.

Uses & Activities

Just being a little piece of nature in the middle of a city makes it a great place. The spectacular view of the Detroit and Windsor skylines (Windsor is in Canada, opposite Detroit) make it lovely. You can watch freighters come in on the river, or watch yachts sail from the Detroit Yacht Club, also on the island. There is the Belle Isle Zoo, Conservatory, the lovely aquarium, a classic water park, beaches, a golf course, and many more things.

Sociability

Belle Isle is a diverse place. While much of Detroit is African-American, the island is a very diverse place where people come to have a good time and relax from their pressured lives.

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

Belle Isle was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the same landscape architect who designed Central Park in New York City.

Related Links & Sources

Belle Isle Park
Loiterway, now demolished. All images provided courtesy of www.detroityes.com
Belle Isle Park
Restored slate-roof picnic shelter.
Belle Isle Park
Scott Fountain.
Belle Isle Park
Maitenance Building in need of maintenance.
Belle Isle Park
Belle Isle Park
Belle Isle Park
Belle Isle Park

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

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The Key to Safe Streets: Five Cities Humanizing Street Design