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The Belle Isle Aquarium was built by Albert Kahn and opened just over 107 years ago on August 18th, 1904. At the time it was built it was one of the most popular attractions on Belle Isle and cost $160,000 to build. Here you can see the exterior ornamentation and cartouche – note the two fish-like creatures which are spitting water – the one on the right is the most distinguishable. All of the exterior details have a water theme. The banded columns have a feeling of water pouring from the bands, and above the image you see here, there is a large figure of Neptune, the Greek God of Water. I presume that this ornamentation would have been created in New York for Kahn and shipped to Detroit. Kahn’s office would have had to draw scaled drawings of all the ornamentation. On the interior, there are beautiful green tiles that cover the entire ceiling of the dome where both fresh and salt water fish could be viewed. The aquarium was closed in 2005 due to city budget cuts, however, it can still be viewed during special events such as the annual Shiver on the River in February with the support of the Friends of Belle Isle Aquarium.

Aquarium Interior

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