Saturday, August 2, 2008

Scott Fountain

For the reader who's never been to Detroit, Belle Isle is an island in the middle of the Detroit River and is the largest island park in the United States. For over a hundred years, Detroiters have been crossing the bridge to visit the island to enjoy a day of leisure that has at times included a golf course, an aquarium, a zoo, a water park, botanical gardens, the country's oldest conservatory, a yacht club and boat club, and a maritime museum. The landscape was designed in the 1880's by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. He is famous for having designed many urban parks, including Central Park and Prospect Park in New York. And the heart of this island park is the Scott Memorial Fountain, pictured below.

October, 2007.

The two previous photographs were taken last fall, shortly after the fountain was restored in preparations for the return of Grand Prix racing to the island.

August 2, 2008.

The last photograph shows what the fountain has looked like since the beginning of the summer when the copper pipes and electrical wiring were stolen for scrap - seriously! The Grand Prix race on Belle Isle is later in the month, and the city is apparently making efforts to have it repaired in time for the race visitors to enjoy. I have to admit I'm a little conflicted talking about stories like this that reinforce the notion of Detroit as post-apocalyptic city whose infrastructure is being destroyed by its citizens. There are other sad and brazen copper thefts, including the theft of an eight foot statue of Jesus. Talk about pushing the limits of God's forgiveness...... In the end, though I am encouraged by the city's willingness to invest in this repair, though my guess is that they had some help from some of the Grand Prix investors. It's a reminder Detroit's toughness and a refusal to give up.


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