That’s right…the oldest aquarium in the United States is right here in Michigan.

The Belle Isle Aquarium is located at 900 Inselruhe Avenue, Detroit. When it opened, it was considered the world’s third largest…now it is THE largest.

Constructed and designed in 1904 by Albert Kahn, the famed architect who was born in Germany in 1869 and came to the U.S. when his family moved to Detroit in 1880.

When built, it cost $165,000…by today’s standards, that would be over $4,000,000.

The architecture style is Beaux Art, with green opaline glass the covers the ceiling, giving it an even more intense aquatic feel.

You’ll find 118 species of over 1,000 fish, including jellyfish and stingrays.

A sad note: during the Great Depression, the aquarium found it necessary to downsize. Many saltwater fish were sold and taken away, as seawater was too expensive to keep buying. One of the aquarium’s favorite animals was “Big Pete”, a huge sea turtle…he was sold to a local market owner, who chopped him up and made soup!

After closing and re-opening a few times, it is currently open weekends from 10am-4pm. Admission is free!

Take a look at some photos below, the pay a visit sometime this year!

 

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