Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Windmil Island Artistry - Natural and Man-Made

Hello! Our epic hot spell last month has led to the early blooming of springtime plantings, including the city's famous tulips. The local paper suggested over the weekend that visits were in order ASAP to see the Windmill Islands tulips before it's too late, so I headed over there today to view them. Indeed, some were already past peak, but I still got some nice photos, as you will see. You will also see photos showing off the talents of many artists and artisans. 

First, you can learn more about Windmill Island here

I'll start by showing a variety of tulips:

This is only a small fraction of the pictures I could have taken, but needless to say, there were some very lovely blooms!

Tulips come and go, but to me, the star of Windmill Island is this structure, the reason for the island's name:

I have read tourism brochures from other communities around the country that tout their reproduction windmills built to honor local ethnic groups. However, our windmill is the real deal - it was taken apart in the Netherlands, shipped over here, then reassembled. You can see how large it is by noting the people at the bottom left-hand side of the photo. The Netherlands, now rightly recognizing that their old windmills are national treasures, no longer allows their dispersal. 

Here's a couple more angles as I got closer:

Tours of the mill are offered but as I had already done so in the past, I declined to take one today. The tour guide was pleased that I, a local, had been on the tour. "There are people who live here but have never been to Windmill Island", she informed me. I told her that was silly, as the windmill is very unique. I love its history and it's a cool-looking structure to boot! Like I said, it's the real deal. 

Besides the windmill, many other features of Windmill Island promote Dutch history, such as this:

A gift shop that replicates older-style Dutch architecture.

And this:

Photos of the Little Netherlands display follow:

I'm a sucker for these scale-model set-ups; I love looking at all the details, which, as you can see from my pictures, range from boats, cheese sellers, pasture and more. Overall, the size of the entire display equals that of the big model railroad displays one sometimes sees in museums and in mall exhibits. 

Close to the Little Netherlands is another example of artistry to a high degree:

An overview of the carousel, followed by a close-up of some of the steeds:

As fun as these animals are, what really appealed to me are the hand-painted panels encircling the inner section of the carousel; they had been redone several years ago by a local woman and she had done a wonderful job! You'll see what I mean by the following photos:

There are more panels from this carousel, but I hope you get the idea of how charming these are! As with the Little Netherlands display, I really enjoyed seeing all the details.

Another ode to the "real Holland":

These are some of the flags from Dutch provinces, with the signs near the bottoms of the flagpoles identifying each province. Several of these provincial names were used to name towns around here as well. 

One last bit of Dutch history to show:

An old-fashioned organ, a gift from the Netherlands. It still is played at intervals throughout the day on Windmill Island and has a lovely sound. 

I hope that if you don't live here, you enjoyed my little tour of Windmill Island! However, if you live in this area and, as the tour guide had commented, have never been here, then I say you owe it yourself to come see the natural and man-made artistry in person!


  1. One of my FAVORITE places in all of Michigan!

    1. Thanks - I wish the city did more to promote the unique character of the windmill. It seems sad that there are people here who never have visited Windmill Island.

  2. I remember taking the full tour on a field trip in elementary school. I think Jarod might have too. The last time I was there was the first year they did the KunstMarkt and I participated. We actually camped in the field by the windmill. It was so cool to see in the morning. I love the "island". Thanks for the walk down memory lane with the photos.

  3. I took my folks on the windmill tour several years ago and they enjoyed it. It's probably something that the locals take for granted and don't stop to think about how unique that old windmill is! But as you could see, I found myself enjoying the other sights just as much!

  4. Hi Aimee. This was a trip down memory lane for me too. Take care. Marianne.

    1. Thank you, Marianne - you ought to come back for a visit!