not all those who wander are lost

Designed and built 1904 by Albert Kahn. Pewabic green glazed tile throughout the interiors, with bold baroque carvings on the entryway pediment. Greeting you as you enter are Poseidon and sculptures of dolphins.

At the top we are presented with the yet-again painfully ironic emblem of the City of Detroit. Now even more painful with the reckless decision to gut the aquarium and close it after 101 years in operation.

According the the Mayor of Detroit, live on television in his own statements today – it costs nearly 4 million dollars per day to run Detroit. Shutting down the aquarium will save $450,000.00 per year. This means they are willing to sacrifice a 101 year old institution, the oldest of its kind in all of the Americas, to pay for a couple hours of one days operating costs.


Again, the emblem of The City of Detroit.
On the left is a woman who weeps inconsolably, with the city burning in ruins behind her. On the right is a woman trying to console the woman on the left, and behind her is a shining modern city that Detroit may one day have been. The left represents the present, and the right represents hope for the future. The latin inscription tells everything:

We Shall Rise From The Ashes


We Hope for Better Things

The emblem was created 200 years ago in 1805 after fire destroyed most of the original settlements of Detroit. And to this day we are still “hoping for better things”…


Close inspection reveals the immediate effects of mineral erosion. In this case caused by reckless application of salt on the pavement to melt ice.

6 Responses to Closing Belle Isle Aquarium

  • As I look through the pictures on this site, I understand the memories of my father. I never knew Detroit all that well, though I can sense the past that has faded from my view.

    So now they’re closing the Belle Isle Aquarium? My God. One of the images I can actually relate to. Thank you so much for this photographs, and indeed all these photographs. I’m almost moved to tears everytime I visit this site.

    As a web developer, I’m grateful that this site is in a format that should make it easy for the Wayback Machine to archive this site, for when history eventually erodes us away.

    Again, thank you for this window into a past I don’t fully know. You do the city a great honor.

  • Wow – I woulda bought that little purple and organge fish – I would have built a saltwater tank just for him !

    They are honoring Shedd in Chicago this week for its 75th aniversary and I am just bitter hearing about it. I cant believe they killed Detroits aquarium.

  • some of the local pet stores were sold some of the fish to also sell.. there was one in warren i know of but they are sold out of them already. i am figuring there are other pet stores that got some too

  • That building looks gorgeous. What a waste.

  • Hey AIW~

    Yeah, we went in with full equipment, as did a dozen other professional looking photographers. Im sure Ill be back again with all film equipment (as opposed to digital). I have a messed up set of wideangle and fisheye lenses for my Nikon that I cant get in digital lenses yet.
    The lighting is to varied to get even exposures in there- its either the ceilings or the lower parts or the lit tanks, but never all at once. The flash bounces all over and lights up the chrome details. Glares off the glazed tiles. The Wrath of Kahn ~ Hahahahah !

    I used full heavy tripod with length exposures as well as flash and higher speed exposures. Cant time expose a swimming fish !

    Ill be shooting more digital video before they give all the animals away. Anyone out there have fish – salt or fresh ? Can you imagine how much these animals must be worth ? Priceless I am sure. To my knowledge they are being given away to other institutions.


    In the meantime Detroit, enjoy your fake ass WinterBlast in your crapass cheesy new Kampus Karmanos.

  • Great shots Dfunk. I find it hard to take decent pictures in there. Did you use a tripod? Or did you shoot by placing the camera on the center rail? That’s how I did it…