Oakway / Canoe StreamCounty: Wayne City/Township: Detroit
Location: Oakway / Canoe Stream
Year Built: 1913 About this Bridge: The single-span, concrete-slab Oakway Road Bridge Crosses over the Canoe Stream in a forest area near the east end of Belle Isle. The skewed structure has concrete parapet railings. Each railing is interrupted by three vertical posts which rise above the projecting coping. The posts are decorated with teal and orange tile arranged in geometric patterns. The tile might have been produced by Pewabic Pottery, which was founded in 1904; in 1908, the pottery moved to 10125 East Jefferson Avenue, not far from the bridge between the mainland and Belle Isle. Although some of the tiles are damaged, graffiti covers part of the bridge, the historical integrity of the design remains good. The city of Detroit purchased Belle Isle, a 707-acre island in the Detroit River, in September 1879. By 1940, fill had expanded its size to nearly 1,000 acres. According to local historian Clarence M. Burton, it was originally "an unimproved area, abounding in native forests, sloughs, swales and was very unattractive." The city hired prominent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead for $7,000 per year to plan and oversee improvements. His layout included a central driveway, Central Avenue, and the canal that meanders around the island. Oakway Road extends from Central Avenue. The bridge dates from a period which produced a number of important amenities on Belle Isle, including the conservatory, the aquarium, the casino and Scott Fountain. As part of this significant early twentieth-century development campaign, the Oakway Road Bridge contributes to the Belle Isle National Register historic district.