"Constant Temptation"

Wooden bridge over canal, Belle Isle, Burton Historical Collection, predates Sylvan Creek and Oakway Bridge described below.
A guy named Benjamin Gravel makes it his labor of love to post photos of Detroit-area structures and their architects via Facebook and Detroit Yes. When he posted a photo of Belle Isle's Oakway Bridge, over Sylvan Creek, with guesstimated dates of 1910's to 1920's, I was compelled to spring into action with my mega-librarian skills. I found this, from June 1914:

...which if you continue reading (I can never resist continuing reading and there went my night), leads to this:
"I also desire to register my protest against the erection of any more buildings on Belle Isle Park, especially those of the cheaper sort. I am also opposed to the plan of a municipal dance hall on Belle Isle Park. If erected at all it should be located elsewhere. There has been too much of a tendency on the part of people who are looking only to financial gain and who in turn enlist the assistance of their friends in public positions in advocating those things which would transform our beautiful park into a second Coney Island. Let us keep Belle Isle beautiful, restful, and with sufficient opportunities for recreation without submitting the visitors to unnecessary annoyances in the way of noise or subjecting them to a constant temptation for spending money unnecessarily. All of which is respectfully submitted. WM. T. DUST, Commissioner"
It turns out this Willam T. Dust was quite multi-talented. He served the city in many roles, including as the Commissioner of Parks & Boulevards during one of the greatest growth phases in Detroit's history. A bio of him can be found here:

I also found this modern description of the Oak Way bridge, which still has what are likely Pewabic tiles on it:

The eleventh annual report of the Commissioner of Parks and Boulevards, from 1899-1900, describes how the streets on Belle Isle were named, "OAK WAY From Riverbank Road east to Lakeside Drive. so named because of the oak trees located along this roadway". Well, that makes sense.

Want to get lost in Belle Isle's bridges? 199 photos here.
And yes, I know. I hardly ever write anymore. But I do still hang out on the island with Smart, Fluffy, and friends.

Relics of Memory and Light

I must have passed Woodlawn Cemetery thousands of times, driving down Woodward, but never stopped until today.
I'm always looking for new spots with great scenery to walk Smart and Fluffy, and although newer cemeteries give me pause, filled with such fresh grief, older ones seem more welcoming and peaceful. The older cemeteries like Woodlawn are also a testament to the talent of Detroit's architects and artisans. 
Bad photo, but oh, how the window reflects onto the marble on either side.
I imagine the spirits happy to have company, and of course I imagine them as dog lovers, undisturbed by racing paws and curious noses.
Smart takes in the view.
The mausoleum where I am first bewitched by stained glass.
Woodlawn Cemetery is noted for its exceptional quantity and quality of mausoleums, and if you peek inside them when the light strikes in the most magical way, they are ablaze. One could easily spend an afternoon just looking at stained glass. For more about Woodlawn's history, see the excellent Night Train. 

There were many flowers left from Mother's Day, and I was reminded how lucky I was to have my grandparents around into my twenties and thirties. Honestly, even now I don't think of them in the ground or in ashes; I think of them as staying with me in talismans I have...

in my grandpa's paintings that I can see from where I'm typing, in my Disneyworld Mickey Mouse locket ring from the first time I visited the grandparents in Florida when they retired... and in the scent of lilacs in Woodlawn's May air redolent of my other grandma's perfume.
Not my grandmother, but beloved as all mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers are.

Snowdazzled At Palmer Park

Smart and Fluffy are still around, frolicking in the snow as usual. They've missed being minor blog celebrities.
Palmer Park makes a nice change of scenery (smellery for dogs?) from their usual haunts on Belle Isle.
How many parks have their own enchanted castle? Besides the mouse king? This castle has been homes to soldiers and princesses since at least the 1920's. Best guess from lazy internet research is that it was part of a "cascades" sort of water feature that was popular in its day.

I've got an email out to a local park historian. In the meantime, visit the People for Palmer Park website for more information on this delightful winter fantasy.

Related Posts with Thumbnails

The Isle Itself

If you're reading this from afar (or otherwise unfamiliar with the island park in the Detroit River between Windsor, Canada, and Detroit, designed by the same guy who brought you Central Park in NY), catch up here:

Site Meter