Ten Hoosiers chosen for Georgia Street memorials

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Presidents, authors and entrepreneurs will be among the 10 Hoosiers memorialized on columns along Georgia Street.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard on Wednesday morning announced the honorees, who will have their images and biographies displayed on 6-foot-high columns.

The first 10 honorees are former U.S. presidents Benjamin Harrison and Abraham Lincoln; novelists Booth Tarkington and Lew Wallace, who was also a Civil War general and U.S. ambassador; journalist Ernie Pyle; jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery; Shawnee chief Tecumseh; suffragette May Wright Sewall; entrepreneur Madame C.J. Walker; and the Lilly family, which founded Eli Lilly and Co. as well as the Lilly Endowment.

Over time, the number of honorees will be expanded to 30, Ballard said.

“It’s not easy to pick from so many great Hoosiers who have left an indelible mark on our city, state and country,” Ballard said in a prepared statement. “I am sure these names will spark debate; hopefully they’ll also prompt strong interest in learning more about the history of our great state.”

Mayor Ballard solicited legacy honoree recommendations from the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee. Its panel of advisers looked for Hoosiers who met these criteria: they had been dead at least 20 years; they had spent a significant portion of their life in Indiana; and their accomplishments attained national or international recognition.

Installation of the columns will begin along Georgia Street in February. The monuments will be dedicated in early March during the Big Ten Basketball Tournament.

The cost of each column is about $10,000, which is being paid by the 2011 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee.

Workers finished $12.5 million in improvements for the three-block stretch of Georgia Street in November, transforming it into what city leaders hope will become a major public plaza for special events.


  • Not enough women
    The next round needs to be way more inclusive of women. What were the criteria applied to the selection?
  • cast a wide net
    Didn't anyone have the idea that there should be public input in whom to honor? Or have the chance to make nominations? This makes it sound like the mayor decided all by himself, which he probably didn't, but it sure doesn't sound like it was an inclusive process. What a wasted opportunity for community involvement. I would be much more favorable to support an idea or project in which I had a chance to participate. I think it should be a mix of older figures and newer figures, some well-known, some lesser known with important contributions, some men and some women, maybe even children, musicians, artists scientists, sport figures, business people, educators, adventurers, pioneers in some way. Oh, that's right, no one asked me.
  • Bull pucky
    The whole Georgia Street "rebuild" was ill-conceived and ill-planned. There are now several places that are inaccessible from at least one side of the street, and at least two that are almost impossible to enter from the SAME side of the street. As to who should be on the poles... How about the first bishop of Indiana, or the first pastor of the very church that ANCHORS that stretch of road - St. John The Evangelist! Nuts!
  • Needed more balance...
    I think we can all agree that having only 30 people to choose from is going to be tough. It's also going to be a challenge to balance people that were extremely famous from Indiana that left vs. those that aren't as well known nationally but maybe had a greater impact on their home state.

    However, I've got to say that this initial ten is a big loser in terms of trying to make some sort of Indiana "wow" factor for people visiting for the Super Bowl. The only person in that list that I would feel confident in saying most people nationwide know anything about is Abraham Lincoln. Honestly, even President Harrison is not that well known. Most of the rest of the names would be head scratchers for most people. As a music and jazz fan, I do love the recognition for Wes Montgomery though!

    Now, think about some of the names left off the list...David Letterman (he is approaching being the longest running host in late night tv history and has been a household name for the last 30 years), Larry Bird (one of the most iconic athletes ever and embodies what most people think this state stands for), James Dean (one of the most iconic actors and images of the last century), Michael Jackson/Jackson 5 (may be too controversial but they could go the Jackson 5 route to avoid just honoring Michael), Kurt Vonnegut (one of the most important writers of the last half century), John Mellencamp, Cole Porter, Hoagy Carmicheal, Gus Grissom (one of the first astronauts), and many more.

    I think they should have gone with five well known names...lets make our starting five for now Abe Lincoln, Dave Letterman, James Dean, Larry Bird, and Kurt Vonnegut. And then add in five of the other nine they have now. That would have given it some balance and a little more starpower. This town and state have never done enough to capitalize on the James Dean, Letterman, and Vonnegut angle in my opinion.
  • No Kurt?
    How do you not include one of the greatest writers of the 20th Century in Kurt Vonnegut?
  • How about the obvious??
    How in the world did the IBJ post this article and not lobby for Scott Wise to be one of the 10 hoosiers?
  • Oooops!
    Lew Wallace and Tarkington are both great authors, but James Whitcomb Riley outsold them both - yet he is not on the list. He was nominated by Pres. Harrison to be the first poet Laureate of America, but Congress failed to act on the nomination. I might also point out that unlike some of the other nominees, he lived his entire life in Indiana. He should have been in this first ten. He was the most famous Hoosier during his lifetime, and he had national and international fame.
  • Another couple
    LeRoy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell would be my choices for honored Hoosiers.
  • Her Name is May Wright Sewall
    We are very excited to have May Wright Sewall chosen. We hope her name is spelled correct on the column.
  • Updated Hoosiers?
    I agree, this is a great list, but how about some more up to date Hoosiers? People visitors can actually relate to. John Mellencamp, David Letterman, etc...just a thought.
  • james dean
    james deans last pic on his last visit home was takin at the conner of Capital and Georgia st, northeast conner, was this an over site ? it seems like there would of been some kind of plack place of the site, like we have for elivs...
  • Not bad, but
    I could have done with a little less Civil War and a little more Vonnegut and Letterman.

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