Grand Circus Park is located in downtown Detroit. Its semi-circle shape is surrounded by Comerica Park
, the Detroit Opera House
, the Detroit Athletic Club
(for the city’s elite), several apartment buildings and restaurants, with more to come (including a boutique hotel). The region’s most popular street, Woodward Avenue, runs through it. And it’s the unofficial marker that separates Illitch and Gilbert territory.
Currently, Grand Circus Park doesn’t have the activity of other green space like Campus Martius; however, events are hosted there
and I expect more in the future. On the east side of the park, tables and chairs have been set up for people to relax and a dog park recently opened. While the park may lack the buzz of other areas it is culturally rich. My favorite part of city life is being surrounded by history and culture, Grand Circus Park offers plenty of both.
The Russell Alger Memorial Fountain (1921) is one of my favorites in the city. The statue was sculpted by Daniel Chester French, the man who created the iconic Abraham Lincoln statue for the Lincoln Memorial.
William C. Maybury (monument 1912) served two terms as mayor of Detroit at the turn of the last century. In 1900, he organized a time capsule, the Detroit Century Box
, that was opened in 2000. Included in the box was letters from citizens about what life was like and what they imagined it to be like 100 years in the future. My favorite quote references Canada. I didn’t realize this as a child but we Americans can be pretty arrogant. When I was younger I was entirely convinced Canada would become the 51st state and I’m not the only Michiganer who believed this:
“I predict further that Sandwich, Windsor and Walkerville now in Canada will be part of the City of Detroit and that Ontario will be a state of the United States of America.”
– Orrin R. Baldwin.
Hazen S. Pingree (monument 1903) was a Republican mayor of Detroit (later governor of Michigan) who fought to end corruption in both the private and public sectors. During the economic depression of 1893 he expanded public welfare programs, used public development to stimulate the economy and encouraged people to use vacant city land to grow food. My kind of Republican…
Another fun cultural find was the print of Robert S. Duncanson’s Ellen’s Isle, Loch Katrine (1871). The original is at the Detroit Institute of Art and this copy was made available about the Knight Foundation. The Inside Out Program has set up several exhibits throughout the metro Detroit region in order to expand the museum’s reach and accessibility.
“Notice how Robert S. Duncanson painted light – rays of sunlight reflect off the water near a bright stretch of sand. Art critics of his time noticed, and considered this one of his best works. He had a studio in Detroit but traveled often, becoming the first African American artist to earn international praise.”
I didn’t really intend a history lesson post but it turned out that way, so one last thing. The fountain above is the Edison Memorial Fountain and commemorates the 50th anniversary of his invention of the electric lamp. The man himself and President Herbert Hoover attended the dedication in October 1929.