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Hope in Despair: DETROIT

The world ebbs and flows, and Detroit along with it.

Detroit isn't, and never was, a one-industry city. Many industries have thrived and vanished here only to be replaced by newer ones. It is, however, a city of firsts (see list††), a true Renaissance city. Detroit’s success in various industries is due to its location and ability to trade. Once the largest manufacturer in the country of a wide range of consumer and industrial goods (see list†), and strategically located along the Great Lakes waterway on the Detroit River, Detroit is a major transportation hub.

It was originally founded in 1701 and profited mightily from the fur trade, which lasted nearly 100 years until it drastically declined by the early 1800’s. By the 1820’s, Detroit had become home to thriving flour milling and lumber transport industries because of its shipping capabilities. Shipyards were built here, and were among the first in the world to build steam ships as a direct result of the need to transport enormous amounts of flour and lumber which was used in the Western expansion. The shipbuilding industry led rise to the manufacture of marine steam engines and other supporting industries and by the mid 1800’s Detroit’s importance as a major port had increased with the trading and shipping of heavy raw materials that were used in the building of the nation. By the 1860’s specialized engine parts and tool makers were supporting businesses supplying metal for the shipyards and other industries, and grew beyond supplying Detroit and became major export industries. The Great Lakes area was also a major market for internal combustion engines for boats; it had become “the Motor City”(Those engines would later be developed for use in the automobile). By the 1890’s Detroit’s machine industry made it ripe for the auto industry to develop. The most popular mode of local transportation, the automobile, was perfected in the Motor City. In 1913 the world saw the first moving assembly line used for large-scale manufacturing in Highland Park, (within Detroit): Ford Motor Company was the first company to build large factories around the concept. This new manufacturing method introduced cheaply made goods to a wide audience, ushering in mass consumerism. The auto revolutionized where people lived, how they got to work, when they shopped and how they took vacations. Vehicles designed and built in Detroit drastically improved living standards and fundamentally altered how we live; the modern blue-collar middle class is largely a Detroit creation. Thanks to Detroit’s powerful unions, fortunate workers expect paid medical care, vacations, unemployment compensation, retirement payments and wage increases indexed to inflation.

Detroit’s influence extended outwards around the world culturally as well, with musical legacies celebrated internationally by the city’s familiar nickname, Motown, a name known from not only cars, but from the record company as well that provided an important source of popular music and influenced every generation since its inception. Another nickname for Detroit, The Arsenal of Democracy, was due to the industrial growth during World War II, which was possible due to the large manufacturing base in and around Detroit at that time, and heavily influenced the outcome of WWII. Detroit was also at one time referred to as “the Paris of the West” for its architecture, and for Washington Boulevard, first electrified by Thomas Edison.

In recent times, Detroit’s luster has seemingly faded. Many of the manufacturing industries that once thrived here have closed or moved overseas, and many jobs with them, forcing many residents to move elsewhere. Roughly a third of this 139-square-mile city consists of weed-choked lots and dilapidated buildings. Ravaged by daily fires—houses, cars and trash cans—the city of Detroit has lost more than 200,000 homes in fifty years, covering an area almost equivalent to that of Montreal. No longer used factories have been left to rot and nature is reclaiming large swathes of Detroit reverting them to a form of urban prairie. Many community gardens have taken root: Urban farmers have taken 15 acres of idle land and turned them into more than 40 community gardens and microfarms — some consuming entire blocks and producing six tons of produce a year. The gardens are but one example of Detroit’s resilience and creativity; it will reinvent itself as it has countless times in the past. It had to then, it has to now, and it will:

It is easy to look at the decay and become pessimistic about Detroit, but it truly is a Renaissance city, constantly evolving. The city's riverfront is the focus of much development with upscale million dollar condos going up along the river, such as Watermark Detroit, some of the most expensive the city has ever seen. Detroit is currently undergoing yet another transformation, this time from an automotive industry to (_?_). Along the way let’s treasure and build institutions to make this city a viable place to live once again. One thing is clear: Detroit will reinvent itself again, and will continue to lead the world in firsts. It’s what we do here.



†† Significant Firsts and Achievements in Detroit:

• Detroit, Michigan’s largest city, has one of the nation's largest surviving collections of late nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings. With many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, Detroit's waterfront shows a variety of architectural styles, most notably Art Deco and post modern.
• 1841- The current largest public market in America, Eastern Market, opened and has been in continuous operation ever since.
• The nation’s first state fair opened at 8 Mile and Woodward in 1849.
• 1866 - Vernor’s was the first soda pop made in the U.S.
• 1879 - Detroit telephone customers were first in the nation to be assigned phone numbers to facilitate handling calls.
• 1880’s - The largest island park in the United States, Belle Isle, was landscaped.
• 1883- The first zoo in America with cageless exhibits (Detroit Zoo) opened on Michigan and Trumbull Avenues, across from the site of the now defunct Tiger Stadium.
• 1904-The nation's oldest conservatory, the Anna Scripps Whitcomb conservatory, was built on Belle Isle. It is still is free and open to the public, and is home to one of the largest municipally owned orchid collections in the United States.
• 1909 - First rural mile of concrete pavement in the U.S. opened in Wayne County. It was constructed on Woodward Avenue between McNichols Road (Six Mile) and Seven Mile Road. The world's first urban depressed freeway, the Davison, was constructed in Detroit.
• 1913 - The Magic Bowl opened and is the longest continually operating bowling alley in America.
• 1920 -The first four-way, three-color traffic light was created by police officer William Potts in Detroit.
• 1920 - WWJ began commercial broadcasting of regular programs. It was the first such radio station in the nation.
• 1923 - The nation's first intercity superhighway, "an eight-lane divided marvel," was built on an 18-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue between Detroit and Pontiac. It had a 40-foot median for public transit service.
• 1924 - J. L. Hudson's in Detroit became the first air-conditioned department store.
• 1926 - The nations first regularly scheduled air passenger service began operation between Grand Rapids and Detroit.
• 1930 - The one mile-long Detroit-Windsor Tunnel was the first automobile tunnel built between two nations and cost $23 million to build.
• 1939 - The Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit manufactured the first air-conditioned car.
• 1960- Motown, the first record label owned by an African American, was formed.
• 1965 - The world's largest permanent exhibit on African American culture, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, opened.
• The Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is the only international wildlife preserve in North America.



† Detroit was once the largest manufacturer in the country of industrial and consumer goods listed below:

fur
appliances
freight cars
stoves
pharmaceutical preparations
varnish
ships
paints
foundry and machine shop products
brass goods
furniture
boots and shoes
clothing
matches
cigars
malt liquors
fur goods
furniture
also known for slaughtering, meatpacking, and lumber.
Detroit Jeffries Projects PAINTING
The Jeffries
Oil on Canvas SOLD

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The Jeffries -West Homes, also called the Jeffries Housing Projects or the Jeffries Projects, is a public housing project opened in 1953 as a complex of eight separate 14-story buildings; five more buildings, and additional low-rise housing, were added in 1955. Young Boys Inc., (YBI), among other gangs, terrorized the area well into the 1980s, controlling the largest heroin and crack markets in the United States and even taking over the Jeffries Projects. Tenants would perch on the high-rise towers and shoot at police officers and other outsiders, to keep them out. Most of the towers were imploded in April 2001, while three were renovated, and converted to age-restricted housing. The tenants of the Jeffries were moved to Freedom Place and Research Park Housing Complexes, approximately 8 city blocks from the Jeffries. A mixed-use housing development, named Woodbridge Estates, has been built on the site of the now-imploded towers of the Jeffries Projects; it is still criticized for not being affordable for many that live in the neighborhood.
Ambassador Bridge PAINTING
Ambassador Bridge
SOLD

The Ambassador Bridge is a privately owned suspension bridge that connects Detroit, Michigan, in the United States, with Windsor, Ontario, in Canada. The bridge, over the Detroit River, had the longest suspended central span in the world when it was completed in 1929—1,850 feet, a title it would hold until 1931. It is the busiest international border crossing in North America in terms of trade volume, with 27% of all merchandise trade between the United States and Canada crosses the bridge. Construction began in 1927 and was completed in 1929. The architect was the McClintic-Marshall Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It is styled in a mixture of Art Deco and Streamline Modern architectural designs, with some Gothic architecture blended in.
View from Eastern Market PAINTING
View from Eastern Market
6"h x 24"w
$300

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Locally grown produce is sold at the historic Eastern Market, alongside other produce from all over the country, and world. This painting was inspired from a January trip to Eastern Market where Julie buys her weekly groceries.

As Michigan’s largest city, Detroit's waterfront shows a variety of architectural styles, most notably Art Deco and post modern. With many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, the city has one of the nation's largest surviving collections of late nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings reflecting the wealth of industry and history in this world famous city.

The world ebbs and flows, and Detroit along with it. Detroit isn't, and never was, a one-industry city, as reflected in its diverse architecture. Many industries have thrived and vanished here only to be replaced by newer ones. Not for the first time, the city is attempting to reinvent its economic identity, focusing much development on the riverfront following the example of Windsor, Ontario. Along the river, upscale million dollar condos are going up, some of the most expensive the city has ever seen.
DRUNK IN THE DOORWAY PAINTING
Drunk in the Doorway
12"w x 16"h
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In a city of just under 1 million residents, the homeless population is estimated at around 15,000 people. Traveling through and around Detroit it’s common to see people living under bridges, sleeping on steam vents in the winter and propped in doorways of vacant building. The epitome of Detroit’s homeless population was the discovery of a frozen homeless man in an abandoned building in the winter of 2008, which made international news. It’s become commonplace for many city residents to interact with the homeless, callously giving them nicknames like “Umbrella man”, “The Screamer” and “Coney Guy”. Perhaps homelessness will receive more attention now that it’s become more commonplace due to the current recession.
BELLE ISLE 2001 PAINTING
Belle Isle 2001
20"w x 24"h
$250


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The largest island park in the United States, Belle Isle was landscaped in the 1880s by Frederick Law Olmstead. At 982 acres,Belle Isle Park is the largest city island park in America and is larger than Central Park in New York City, which was also designed by Olmstead. It is home to the William Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse, the only marble lighthouse in the United States. The Dossin Great Lakes Museum on Belle Isle features exhibits such as one of the largest collection of model ships in the world, and the bow anchor of the legendary SS Edmund Fitzgerald. When it first opened, the island quickly became a favorite destination spot for Detroit’s residents. The island saw it’s darkest days in the late 70’s and early 80’s when it became a crime hot spot- it was known as a dumping ground for everything from trash to homicide victims. It has since seen a revival of sorts, its popularity regained somewhat as crime and sprawl found roots elsewhere. The wildlife on the island is resurging, too, with a lone beaver building a dam on the river for the first time in over 100 years. It is home to many wild turkeys and is a stopover resting place for many migratory birds and butterflies.
MOTOWN PAINTING
Motown SOLD

Motown Records was founded by Berry Gordy, Jr. and was incorporated as Motown Record Corporation on April 14, 1960. Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music, as it was the first record label owned by an African American to primarily feature African-American artists who achieved crossover success. (In the United Kingdom, the Motown Sound became the basis of the northern soul movement.) Motown artists were advised that their breakthrough into the white popular music market made them ambassadors for other African American artists seeking broad market acceptance, and that they should think, act, walk and talk like royalty, so as to alter the less-than-dignified image commonly held by white Americans in that era of black musicians.

In 1968, Gordy purchased the Donovan building on the corner of Woodward Avenue and Interstate 75, and moved Motown's Detroit offices there. The Donovan building was demolished in January 2006 to provide parking spaces for Super Bowl XL, but the Hitsville U.S.A. studio on Grand Boulevard is still standing. Motown Records left Detroit for Los Angeles in 1972, but its impact on Detroit remains.
KOWALSKI PAINTING
KOWALSKI SOLD

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For more than 85 years, Kowalski Sausage Co. has manufactured meat products at 2270 Holbrook Street,, Hamtramck. Originally settled by German farmers, Polish immigrants flooded into the area when the Dodge Brothers plant opened in 1914. As of the 2000 census, the city's foreign-born population stood at 41.1%, making it Michigan's most internationally diverse city.
CASINO WAY BRIDGE PAINTING
Casino Way Bridge SOLD

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Located on Belle Isle over the Loup Canal near the Casino, this bridge is for pedestrians. Constructed in 1893, it is one of two bridges built in 1893 by the King Bridge Company of Cleveland, Ohio that are still in use on the island. The other bridge is called the Central Avenue Bridge and still carries vehicular traffic. The Casino Way Bridge appeared in the King Bridge Company catalogues of the 1890s. Belle Isle Park was designed in the 1880s by Fredrick Law Olmsted, the famous landscape architect who created Central Park in New York and many of great parks in other cities; he liked to have these decorative bridges as part of his park designs.
BUTTERFLY conservatory PAINTING
Conservatory
5"w x 5"h
SOLD


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The nation's oldest conservatory was built in 1904 and designed by noted architect Albert Kahn. In 1953 the conservatory was renamed in honor of Anna Scripps Whitcomb, who left her 600-plant orchid collection to the city. The conservatory is home to one of the largest municipally owned orchid collections in the United States.
African Museum Mask
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
11"w x 14"h
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Founded in 1965, it holds the world'slargest permanent exhibit on African American culture. In 1997, it moved into the current 120,000 square foot facility on Warren Avenue. It has dual missions : serving as both a museum of artifacts and a place of cultural retention and growth.
Detroit KNEW Brewster Projects
Detroit Knew
24"w x 36"h
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The Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects is the largest residential housing project owned by the City of Detroit. Named after Frederick Douglass, African American abolitionist, author, and reformer, it is currently undergoing urban gentrification by which working class residents are displaced by wealthier residents. In 1935 First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt broke ground for the Brewster Homes, the nation’s first federally funded public housing development for African Americans. The low-rise homes opened in 1938 with 701 units. The towers were built between 1942 and 1952 it is five city blocks long, and three city blocks wide, built for the "working poor. Faced with restrictions on where they could live, many African Americans were forced into substandard housing. The original Brewster Homes were demolished in 1991 and replaced by 250 townhouses designed in the Modern movement architectural style, made of brick, identical in look and each rises to the height of 14 floors.
Flower Day
Flower Day
20"w x 20"h
SOLD



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Attended by more than 150,000 people annually, Flower Day at the Eastern Market is one of the largest flower shows in the country. Over 15-acres of the highest quality annuals, perennials, foliage, shrubbery, trees, exotics, tropical plants, flats, hanging baskets fill the market on Flower Day. Detroit Eastern Market is the largest historic public market district in the United States. Every Saturday, Michigan's largest and most colorful market is host to more than 150 farmers and vendors from Michigan, Ohio, and Canada offering a cornucopia of fruits, vegetables, breads, baked goods, jellies, jams, honey, apple cider, cheeses, spices, herbs, plants and flowers. At its current location since 1891, Detroit's Eastern Market has been home to an amazing community of farmers, merchants, restaurants, unique shops, food lovers and residents. On any given Saturday, more than 26,000 Detroiters, suburbanites and tourists shop elbow to elbow, sharing experiences from generation to generation.
JAZZ
Jazz
11"w x 14"h
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For 30 years, America's largest free Jazz Festival, the Detroit International Jazz Festival (DJF), has attracted visitors and locals to an end-of-summer ritual on Labor Day Weekend that celebrates one of America’s most important art forms. The festival boasts six stages and 100 acts over four days in a city well known for its musical legacy. The festival offers hope for Detroit’s future through their mission: * Foster the history and nurture the development of jazz * Perpetuate Detroit’s significant jazz legacy through educational and collaborative opportunities accessible to all * Present a world-class signature event that makes Detroit a tourist destination
Kerns Clock
Kern's Clock
18"w x 22"h
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Kern's was established in Detroit in 1883, and was one of Detroit's leading department stores. In 1886, the original store was consumed by fire and was rebuilt at Randolph and Monroe. In 1900, the Kern's purchased a five-story building at Woodward and Gratiot to accommodate increasing business. After World War I, additional space was once again needed for expansion, and the department store acquired the adjoining nine-story Weber Building. In 1929, the store was demolished and a new store was erected. In 1957 the family decided to sell Ernst Kern Co., Detroit’s Third largest department store, to Sattler’s Inc. of Buffalo, New York. Following numerous corporate problems and changes in management, the store closed its doors for the final time on December 23, 1959.
The block was torn down in 1966, along with Detroit's old city hall, and the paradise building across the street, as part of Detroit's downtown urban renewal. The site remained an undeveloped park until 1999 when the Campus Martius Park project began development. The former site of Kern's is now occupied by the corporate headquarters of Compuware. Although the store may be gone, the beloved Kern's clock has been reinstalled at the corner of Woodward and Gratiot Avenues in downtown Detroit.
Peacock
Peacock
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Indian Blue Peafowl roam the Fourth Street Detroit neighborhood freely. Neighbors said a former resident brought in the original peacocks, and current residents feed the birds, but no one keeps them as pets. They can also be seen wondering freely about at the Detroit zoo, though not as official attractions. The first Detroit Zoo opened in 1883 on Michigan and Trumbull Avenues, across from the site of the now defunct Tiger Stadium, and was the first in America with cageless exhibits.
Possessions
Possessions
30"w x 40"h
$400

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Detroit has an estimated 15,000 homeless people. More than half live outside shelters under bridges, in parks or inside vacant buildings. Their numbers are growing as jobs and affordable housing dry up. The nation's nearly 1 million homeless have been a national story for 30 years; 75% of them live in central cities like Detroit. Homelessness has become worse due to, among other things, a lack of community resources for the mentally ill. Long-term or chronic homelessness now makes up 20% of the homeless population. Most of the chronically homeless are mentally ill, substance abusers or, more than likely, both. Families make up about a third of the homeless. Maybe half of the homeless have jobs, often temporary or part-time, but don't earn enough to pay rent or a mortgage. Veterans make up an estimated 25% of the adult homeless, though vets make up only 11% of the population homeless people.
Fontaine Motel
Fontaine Motel
5"w x 5"h
sold

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An easily recognizable landmark in Highland Park, it’s history is now seemingly lost. The sign for the motel is classic Mid-century modern signage popular for Americana roadside motels built before the modern freeway system existed. It’s located on Woodward, a well known thoroughfare, previously known as the Saginaw trail, and part of the old Dixie Highway system. One can only imagine the people who’ve passed through its doors, from businessmen, returning GI’s and prostitutes to road weary families. As recently as the late 80’s the neon for the fountain on the sign still worked, fluttering in an electric spray of water.
Koi
Koi
18"w x 22"h
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These Koi were moved in 2005 from the basement of Michigan's oldest and only public aquarium on Belle Isle into the refurbished lily pond garden of the Whitcomb conservatory nearby. Both the Aquarium, modeled after the Naples, Italy, aquarium, and the Conservatory were built in 1904 and designed by noted architect Albert Kahn. The Aquarium is a national and historical treasure. It was until just recently the oldest continually functioning aquarium in the United States.
It is sad, that for a state almost completely surrounded by the greatest lakes in the world, its only public aquarium has been shuttered. All cities go through good and bad times. Almost all administrations know that one does not destroy the institutions that make the city a viable place to live. You will notice that the Detroit City Fathers did not close the Aquarium down during the darkest days of the Depression even, and yet it has been closed for recent budget cuts. Fundraising efforts to reopen the Aquarium abound. The Koi themselves offer hope. The Koi, with their distinctively colorful bodies and long life spans, can fetch thousands of dollars per fish. Supporters of the historic Aquarium want, with the support of the city, to breed some of the Koi and sell the offspring to raise funds and use the money to help reopen the aquarium.
Eastern Market Shed
Eastern Market Shed
15"w x 15"h
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About 45,000 people shop on Saturdays at the historic Eastern Market, where produce from all over the world is sold to local residents and restaurants alike. Not only has the market been in continuous operation since 1841, but it has additional historical significance: parts of the Underground Railroad went under the Eastern Market through to the Detroit River where escaping slaves were able to make safe haven to Canada. Also, part of an ancient American Indian burial ground was located in the area, and later relocated to a cemetery.
The iconic murals on the shed have been removed in a recent restoration effort. Management of the market has been turned over from the city to a private company which is improving major corridors within the district. Their goal is to take advantage of the great economic development opportunities available throughout the Eastern Market District to attract more creative people to live, work, visit, and invest in the district. Streetscaping, façade enhancements, signage, parking, lighting, and landscaping are being enhanced for the Eastern Market district to fulfill its potential.
Music Hall, detail
Music Hall, detail
sold



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Prints Available
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Built by Matilda Dodge in 1928, the six-story Wilson Theater was designed in Art Deco style by William Kapp, who also designed the Player’s Club. The original interior was designed in a Spanish Renaissance theme and sat 1,800 patrons. During the Great Depression, the cash-strapped Detroit Symphony Orchestra was unable to support their building, the Orchestra Hall, and so they played in a number of other locations, and moved in 1946 into the Wilson Theatre, renaming it Detroit Music Hall. The symphony moved out in 1951, and the building was used for other purposes, especially a movie theater showing Cinerama films. Rehabilitation efforts were begun in 1973, and in 1995 it reopened as the Music Hall Center for Performing Arts. It is currently the only venue in Detroit built expressly for presenting live performances. The theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.
The Parkman Branch Library
The Parkman Branch Library
8"w x 10"h
$90

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This branch of the Detroit public library system opened at its present location on April 16, 1931. Named in honor of the American historian Francis Parkman, this branch was the eighteenth in the Detroit Library System and second to be designed according to a regional plan. The Detroit Public Library (DPL) is the largest library system in Michigan. The building's architects were the firm of Burrowes and Eurich, which also co-designed the McGregor Library in Highland Park.
The Players
The Players
8"w x 8"h
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The Players is a clubhouse and theatre founded in 1910 by a group of local Detroit businessmen as an institution to encourage amateur theater and has been a strictly male club. In 1925, Players Club member and well known architect William E. Kapp designed a building to permanently house the club The two story building was elaborately decorated, and constructed of what was, at the time, a novel material: cinder blocks. The bed of Parent's Creek lies underneath one corner of the building; near this site on July 31, 1763, the Battle of Bloody Run (so called because the creek ran red with blood) took place between Chief Pontiac and British forces.
Scott Memorial Fountain
Scott Memorial Fountain
20"w x 16"h
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>Built in 1925 for the cost of $500,000, it is 510 feet wide and has a central spray of 125 feet. The fountain is a tribute to James Scott, who left $200,000 to the City of Detroit for a fountain in tribute to his name. The designer of Belle Isle, famed architect Frederick Law Olmstead, helped select Cass Gilbert's design for the mammoth Scott Fountain, chosen over 93 other entries in a nationwide competition. Among Gilbert's other achievements was the design of the U.S. Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.
Trinity Episcopal Church
Trinity Episcopal Church, detail
18"w x 12"h
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Architects Mason & Rice designed this English Gothic style building 1893. The walls are two feet thick Trenton limestone, and the roof is sheathed with copper. The exterior holds over two hundred carvings, including gargoyles that serve as water drains. The interior boasts stained glass, including a Tiffany, a LaFarge, and a window over the altar created by Franz Mayer & Co. of Germany as well as a 1200-pipe organ manufactured by the Jardine Company of New York City.
Casino
Casino
18"w x 12"h
$600

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The Belle Isle Casino building is not an actual gambling facility but rather, is used for occasional public events. It is located near the entrance of the island just east of the Scott Memorial Fountain.
The original Casino was built in 1887, and the current structure was redesigned by famed architect Albert Kahn in 1907, who, between 1903 and 1930, also designed the Whitcomb Conservatory and the Livingstone Lighthouse on Belle Isle as well as the Russell Industrial Center, the General Motors and Fisher Buildings in the city of Detroit.
Once said to be the finest casino in the United States, ornate towers frame the Spanish-style building's four corners, and encircling two-story arcaded verandas provide picnickers with shelter and an eating-place where patrons would be cooled by breezes in the era long before air conditioning. It also provides views of the Detroit River and Canada. The style likely reflects architectural ideas flowing from Kahn's trip to Italy since it is a Renaissance Revival Building constructed from brick with a terra cotta roof.
Casino
Mexicantown House
18"w x 12"h
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