You are here
Home > News > Vintage Belle Isle Park Proposal Vs. Today: Who Wore it Better?

Vintage Belle Isle Park Proposal Vs. Today: Who Wore it Better?

Did you know that there was once a proposal to build a park structure at the Eastern edge of Belle Isle? The vintage rendering shows that the proposal included sale boat slips on the northeastern and southeastern edge of the island, a boardwalk, a large artificial fountain, and multi-level mezzanine structure.

I am kind of glad this was never built as I like the rugged wilderness of the island as it is now. But then again the skyline views of downtown from this end of the island would be incredible. What do yo think?

Proposed James River Park for Belle Isle, 1970. Note the old Robert E. Lee bridge in the drawing. Never built.
2018 Google Earth Image of Belle Isle

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

4 thoughts on “Vintage Belle Isle Park Proposal Vs. Today: Who Wore it Better?

  1. The aesthetics of that 1970 plan are a lot like the McKeldin Fountain that was built in 1982 in Baltimore (https://archpaper.com/2016/11/mckeldin-fountain-demolished-baltimore/). Some people disliked it (and a lot of urbanists hated the attached elevated walkways), but I loved playing in and around it as a kid. You could even walk behind one of the waterfalls, which at age ~3-6 I I thought was amazing. Baltimore recently replaced it with just another grassy plaza. http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/bs-bz-mckeldin-square-opens-20170622-story.html

    Which is to say, there’s not guaranteeing that Belle Isle would still have that interesting fountain today had it been built in the ’70s, particularly since the James does have a nasty habit of flooding.

  2. If you look deeper into this, the city had been trying to take the island through eminent domain throughout the 60s, to the chagrin of the owner of Old Dominion Iron and Steel. He fought the city for more than a decade by investing in more machinery for his industrial heat exchanger business. It was truly a manufacturing plant location, plain and simple.

    My dad, Robert Woolwine, was the last person to drive off the island in 1972 before their one lane bridge was washed away from hurricane Agnes flooding (you can see the last section remaining as you exit the pedestrian bridge on the island – in exactly the same shape as 1972 – see the link ). He had returned from a business trip to Houston (since they sold a lot of product to oil refineries), and decided at the last minute to drive off instead of waiting for the water to rise and fall – and a good choice it was (there was no weather.com in those days!).

    http://www.richmond.com/weather/photos-flooding-from-hurricane-agnes/collection_4642391c-c36d-54a8-ba35-52d390487c2a.html#20

    So glad it remains in a wild and natural state!

Comments

Top