|A monument to Pingree in Grand Circus Park|
Pingree, a Civil War veteran and founder of the largest shoe manufacturer in the West, was elected Mayor in 1889 on a campaign platform that centered on ending corruption in city paving contracts, sewer contracts, and the school board. He also fought hard to create a municipally owned streetcar system in Detroit.
If you think those sound like news bits of today, none is as remarkably Bing-esque as Pingree's 'potato patch plan' during the Depression of 1893. Pingree, seeing some 25,000 Detroit men unemployed and large chunks of land sitting vacant in preparation for a forecasted real estate boom, initiated a plan that called for the planting of vegetables throughout the city to help feed Detroit's hungry. The plan was heralded nationwide as a huge success, which is perhaps a good omen for Bing's 'urban farming' model.
The 'potato patch plan' helped Pingree become Governor of Michigan in 1896, helped build his 'Idol to the People' reputation, and probably went a long way toward having a statue of him created and placed on Woodward in Grand Circus Park.