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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

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3 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.

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