Ten Hoosiers chosen for Georgia Street memorials

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.

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