About Belle Isle
A 982-acre island in the Detroit River, Belle Isle is owned by the City of Detroit and in 2014 was leased by the State of Michigan and is now managed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).
It was home to the Detroit Grand Prix from 1992-2001, utilizing a temporary street circuit that was constructed specifically for the Championship Auto Racing Teams' (CART) races. In 2007 and 2008, it once again hosted world-class racing with both the open-wheel cars of the Verizon IndyCar Series and the sports cars of the American Le Mans Series competing at the event. After a four-year absence, the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear returned to the island in 2012 with the Verizon IndyCar Series, the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and the Pirelli World Challenge Championship Series. The same racing series competed at the event in 2013 on the newly-reconfigured 2.35-mile Belle Isle street circuit while featuring the first doubleheader race weekend in the Verizon IndyCar Series. In 2014, the Grand Prix hosted a picture-perfect weekend on the Detroit River featuring another Verizon IndyCar Series doubleheader race weekend - the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit. The new unified sports car series also competed at Belle Isle with the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the Pirelli World Challenge Series also returned to the island. For the first time, the high-flying trucks of the SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road presented by TRAXXAS raced at the Grand Prix to the delight of the over 110,000 fans in attendance on race weekend. The same lineup returned in 2015 and brought 65,000 people down to Belle Isle during a rainy Grand Prix weekend.
In 2016, a crowd of 95,000 witnessed another action-packed weekend of racing featuring the Verizon IndyCar Series racing in the Chevy Dual in Detroit with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the return of the Trans Am Series and the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks presented by TRAXXAS. In 2017, the Grand Prix will return to Belle Isle with a similar lineup on June 2-4.
Connected to Detroit by the MacArthur Bridge, various entities call Belle Isle home, including the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the Detroit Boat Club Crew, the Detroit Yacht Club, a municipal golf course, an aquarium and a Coast Guard post.
The island also includes a half-mile swimming beach, the only one in the city, and a nature center. The aquarium opened in 1904, making it the oldest public aquarium in the United States.
Landscaped in the 1880s by Frederick L. Olmsted, the highlights of Belle Isle are the aquarium, Scott Fountain and the botanical garden in the Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory. The conservatory and the 1908 Belle Isle Casino were constructed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn, well-known for developing open-floor plan concrete factories. The casino building is not a gambling facility, but it is used for public events. Belle Isle also was home to a large herd of European fallow deer for more than 50 years. A few remain as exhibits at the nature center, but the last of the 300 animals was captured in 2004 and relocated.