February 14, 2011 by Amy Elliott Bragg
Detroit’s other micro-funded public art project
In 1901, 60-year-old Hazen Pingree — Detroit mayor, Michigan governor, potato-patcher, Idol of the People — died in London on his return trip from an African safari. As soon as the report hit the streets in Detroit (“within minutes,” reports Dan at BuildingsofDetroit.com), readers started calling the paper offering donations for a monument.
The iconic seated Ping that has presided over Grand Circus Park since 1904 was funded by over 5,000 people. The average donation to the project: between 25 cents and a dollar.
I know I said I didn’t really want to talk about Robocop (also, are we still talking about Robocop?), but the project’s much-ballyhoo’d Kickstarter campaign has made me that much more awed by and appreciative of how much people adored Hazen Pingree.
It also occurred to me that we’d be remiss if we neglected to mention, in our heated public debates about the Robocop statue, the heated public debate that raged for five years over the Scott Fountain on Belle Isle (and accompanying life-size statue of Jim Scott). When I’m really feeling bummed about Robocop, it’s nice to remember how many people really loathed Jim Scott (and if indeed he was a scumbag, he was a REAL LIFE scumbag, and not just an imaginary robot). And that turned out a-okay. Except the fountain keeps getting scrapped. But other than that. It’s a joy to behold. Perhaps Robocop will be as well.