The Bygone Belle Isle Lake
Photos courtesy Oklahoma Historical Society
At first glance it could be a turn-of-the-century look at Paris’ famed Champs-Élysées In reality, it was an oasis in the middle of an undeveloped Oklahoma City prairie named “Belle Isle.”
The Belle Isle Lake was built at the beginning of statehood as a way to generate power for the local streetcar system. An amusement park and carousel were added, and Belle Isle became a favorite hot spot for the bustling new city. The “Great Houdini” performed there, while the pavilion, boardwalk and “Honey Moon Bridge” were popular among the young couples of the day.
By the 1930s the amusement park closed, the carousel burned and Belle Isle faded into a memory. Today, Penn Square Mall occupies part of the old amusement park site, while Wal-Mart and Belle Isle Station are a favorite hub for 21st-century shoppers.