Michigan Walk of Fame

Michigan Walk of Fame – List of Stars

There are 23 plaques honoring 24 people, placed in 2006 and 2007 on the sidewalks of downtown Lansing, Michigan.

For a tour – start at the northeast corner of Washington Square and Kalamazoo Avenue and walk north on Washington. Continue north until reaching Shaiwassee Street in front of Lansing Community College, then cross Washington and walk south. Ending just past the southwest corner of Washington and Kalamazoo in front of the current MBC restaurant.

1. Location : 327 South Washington Square
E. Genevieve Gillette
Athletics and Recreation
  Known as the “Mother” of Michigan State Parks system. Genevieve Gillette is remembered as one of the state’s most effective conservation lobbyists. In 1920, she was the only woman in the first landscape architecture class to graduate from Michigan Agriculture College. As an ally of parks chief P.J. Hoffmaster, and later as founder and president of the Michigan Park Association, she raised public awareness and funding for more than 200,000 acres of Michigan’s state and national parks.
  Her passionate persistent advocacy helped create Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore . In the mid-1960s, Gillette served on President Lyndon Johnson’s Advisory Committee on Recreation and Natural Beauty.

2. Location : 313 South Washington Square
Thomas Edison
Medicine, Science & Technology
  As a boy in Port Huron, Thomas Edison spent hours in the laboratory he created in his parents basement. A technological genius, his passion for inventing devices that met practical needs led to more than 1,000 patents and laboratories that helped establish the concept of industrial research.
  Edison devised a safe, economical incandescent electric light, as well as the dynamos meters switches and fuses needed to generate and distribute electric power. He also invented the motion picture camera and projector and such office equipment as the mimeograph and the dictating machine. The phonograph was Edison’s personal favorite.

3. Location : 225 South Washington Square
Ernie Harwell
b. 1918
Athletics & Recreation
  Ernie Harwell is the only member of the American sports media in the Guinness Book of Records. Where he is named baseball’s most enduring announcer. Harwell, the only announcer to broadcast over a span of seven decades, became the first active broadcaster inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981. Harwell is also a member of the Radio Hall of Fame and seven other halls.
  The Detroit Tigers honored Harwell with a statue at Comerica Park, and named their press box the “Ernie Harwell Media Center.”
  Sixty-five Harwell songs have been recorded. Harwell has appeared in seven movies, and written six books.
Note : Ernie Harwell died in 2010.

4. Location : 215 South Washington Avenue
Jeff Daniels
b. 1955
Arts & Entertainment
  Daniel’s career took off when he won a 1982 OBIE Award for his performance in the one-man Off-Broadway play “Johnny Got His Gun,” Known for his varied movie roles, he is also a director, playwright and entrepreneur.
  Remaining Michigan based, in 1991 Daniels created the Purple Rose Theatre Company in Chelsea, his hometown. A number of the theatre’s productions have been nominated for national awards. He established Purple Rose Films in 1999. Both have created new opportunities for Midwestern artists. To critical acclaim Daniels continues to act in comedic and dramatic film and theater roles.

5. Location : 117 South Washington Square
Stevie Wonder
b. 1950
Arts & Entertainment
  In the early 1960’s, he was “Little Stevie Wonder,” a Motown prodigy enrolled at the Michigan School for the Blind. As a young adult, the Saginaw native began writing songs and producing records independently. He said, “When creating music, you have to live – be inspired by life – to create experiences that are worth sharing with the world.”
  Wonder championed the effort to create the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. national holiday.
  One of the most prolific and celebrated artists in music history. Wonder is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Composers Hall of Fame, was a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, and is a Kennedy Center Honoree.

6. Location : 200 block of North Washington Square – east side
Joe Louis Barrow
Athletics and Recreation
  Joe Louis learned to box as a teenager at Detroit’s Brewster Recreation Center. With power in both hands and great strength, Louis quickly rose through the amateur ranks and turned pro in 1934. He won the world heavyweight title in 1937 at the age of 23.
  All Americans cheered Louis’s 1938 knockout of German Max Schmeling. Two years earlier Schmeling had become a Nazi hero by defeating an ill-prepared Louis. During World War II, Louis assisted the Army in promoting the war effort, but he refused to appear before segregated audiences. Having defended his heavyweight title 25 times, he retired undefeated in 1949.

7. Location : 230 North Washington Square
Walter Reuther
Civic & Community Leadership
  Walter Reuther was a skilled die maker in Ford auto plants. Following a family heritage of labor and political activism, he joined the young United Auto Workers (UAW) in 1936 and quickly emerged as a leader. He gained national attention in May 1937 when Ford security agents attacked him and other UAW workers handing out leaflets on an overpass near the Rouge factory.
  Union members elected Reuther their president in 1946. He held that post until his death. During his tenure, autoworkers made economic gains and obtained greater job security, paid vacations, medical insurance and pensions. An early proponent of universal health care, Reuther also supported civil rights and environmental movements.

8. Location : 200 block North Washington Square – east side
Elijah McCoy
Agriculture, Business and Industry
  Born in Canada to parents who had once been enslaved in Kentucky, Elijah McCoy studied engineering in Scotland. He settled in Ypsilanti after the Civil War, intending to work as a mechanical engineer. Although discrimination limited him to the position of railroad fireman, it failed to dampen his curiosity or his creativity.
  McCoy developed an automatic lubricating device for locomotives that saved both time and money by oiling the engine as it operated. It was the first of more than 50 patents he was awarded. His lubricators were used internationally on trains, boats and in factories. Among the other devices McCoy patented were a folding laundry table and a lawn sprinkler.

9. Location : 320 North Washington Square
Jonas Salk
Medicine, Science and Technology
  Jonas Salk developed the first successful polio vaccine. Poliomyelitis, also known as infantile paralysis, was a feared disease that could cause paralysis or death.
  Salk began his career at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, and his mentor conducted the tests that demonstrated that the vaccine was “safe, effective, and potent.” Salk’s vaccine used a “killed” polio virus that could immunize without risking patient infection. The 1954-55 national testing involved almost two million children in one of the first double-blind placebo-controlled tests. U.S. polio cases dropped 85-90 percent in the first two years of the vaccine’s use.

10. Location: 300 block North Washington Square – east side
Mary Spencer
Education & Literature
  When Mary Spencer became state librarian in 1893, she immediately unlocked the library’s bookcases giving users free access to their contents. Recognizing that the “trend of library work at the present time is democratic,” she worked for thirty years to make the library available and useful to citizens throughout the state.
  Spencer built one of the nation’s earliest traveling library programs, sending cases of books for extended periods to Grange Halls, YMCAs, ladies clubs, and church organizations. She also promoted collegiality and professional collaboration, allowing local libraries in the state to become “associates” of the state library, with access to its collection.

  • Note: At this point, go to the corner and cross the street at start heading south in the opposite direction from Lansing Community College.

11. Location: 333 North Washington Square
“Andrew J. Blackbird”

c. 1815-1908
Eduction & Literature
  Educated first in Odawa (Ottawa) skills and traditions, Andrew J. Blackbird struggled to find the resources to Euro-American schools. He eventually studied at Ypsilanti State Normal School. His command of English enabled him to work as an interpreter for the Mackinac Indian agency. He helped gain Michigan citizenship for Native Americans under the 1850 Constitution and became the first postmaster of Harbor Springs in the 1860s. Blackbird also helped widows and children of Civil War soldiers obtain benefits. His history of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan, published in 1887 includes a grammar of the Odawa language and his autobiography, one of the first written by a Native American.

12. Location: 300 block of North Washington Square – west side
Dr. Pearl Kendrick
Dr. Grace Eldering
Medicine, Science and Technology
  In 1932 a severe outbreak of whooping cough struck Grand Rapids. Pearl Kendrick, director of the Michigan Department of Health laboratory there and her colleague Grace Eldering decided to tackle the highly contagious disease. Causing thick mucus and severe coughing, whooping cough was particularly dangerous to young children.
  With few models to follow, the scientists put in long hours collecting and studying samples and standardizing diagnostic methods. Speaking to professional, civic and parents’ groups, they built the community cooperation and support needed to test their vaccine and demonstrate its success. Thanks to their work, children can be protected from a disease that once killed 6,000 children each year in the United States.

13. Location: 309 North Washington Square
William Crapo “Billy” Durant
Agriculture, Business and Industry
  Unlike most automotive pioneers, Flint’s William Durant was not an inventor. Co-owner of the nation’s largest horse-drawn carriage company, he was a super salesman who saw the sales and marketing potential of the automobile.
  Impressed with a 1904 Buick, Durant reorganized the company. In 1908 he incorporated General Motors, which was capitalized at $2,000. Within the first two years, Durant brought more than 30 firms into GM, including Buick, Cadillac, Oakland (Pontiac), Oldsmobile and the predecessors of the AC Spark Plug and GMC Truck. Forced out of GM, Durant formed Chevrolet and other companies. After gaining and losing control of GM again, he created Durant Motors, which had factories in Flint and Lansing.

14. 200 block of North Washington Square – west side
Muzyad Yahkoob
“Danny Thomas”
Civic & Community Leadership 
  Danny Thomas’s first audiences on Detroit radio knew him as Amos Jacobs, the anglicized form of his Lebanese birth name. His CBS radio show in the late 1940s made him nationally known, but he is best known as a television producer and star, and especially for his long running sitcom, Make Room For Daddy.
  In the early 1950s Thomas began to fulfill a promise made during his financially precarious Detroit years. Mobilizing fellow entertainers, the city of Memphis, Tennessee, and the American public, he built St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for children with catastrophic diseases. Thomas also founded the ALSAC, a charity through which his fellow Arab Americans and others continue to support the hospital.
Note: Most online information sources mention his birth year as 1912, not 1914.

15. 221 North Washington Square
Gordie Howe
b. 1928
Athletics and Recreation
  Known as Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe scored his first professional goal in his 1946 National Hockey League debut. Howe established the most records by any athlete in any sport, including 2,589 career points, 1,071 goals and 29 all-star appearances. He is the only player to play a professional sport in five different decades and was the first father to play on a major sports team with his son, playing with both Mark and Marty.
  Howe helped lead the Detroit Red Wings to four Stanley Cup Championships. A member of 11 Halls of Fame, Howe is celebrated for his openness to fans and contributions to community, as well as his extraordinary play.
Note: Gordie Howe died in 2016.

16. Location: 200 block of North Washington Square – west side
Eero Saarinen
Arts & Entertainment
  Eero Saarinen grew up in Finland and the United States surrounded by art and design. He taught design at Cranbrook Academy of Art and worked in his father’s architectural firm. His independent artistic vision was first revealed in the simple, dramatic arch of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis.
  The General Motors Technical Center in Warren established Saarinen as an interpreter of the post-war style International style. Inspired by automotive engineering, he developed innovative construction techniques, such as gaskets derived from those used in automotive windshields. His work included the curves and cantilevers of the TWA Terminal at New York’s Idlewild (now JFK) Airport and Dulles Airport in Virginia.

17. Location: 113 North Washington Square
Herbert Henry Dow
Medicine, Science & Technology
  Chemical pioneer H.H. Dow developed new processes for extracting bromine, chlorine, calcium, magnesium and sodium compounds from Midland’s underground deposits of brine (salt water). During World War I, Dow’s company replaced Germany as a supplier of explosives, aspirin, magnesium and synthetic indigo. Dow continued to search for new products and processes; his final project was extracting bromine from sea water.
  Herbert Dow literally put down roots in Midland. The orchards and gardens he planted around his home offered not only relaxation and opportunity to research agricultural chemicals during his lifetime; they are now part of his legacy to the community.

18. Location: 111 North Washington Square
Fannie Richards
Education & Literature
  Fannie Richards helped initiate the fight for educational equality that led to a landmark 1869 Michigan Supreme Court decision abolishing segregation in the Detroit public schools. She began her 50-year teaching career as a Detroit teacher in 1865. In 1872, Richards taught the city’s first kindergarten class at the newly integrated Everett Elementary School.
  Along with other women from Detroit’s Second Baptist Church, Richards established the Phillis Wheatley Home for Colored Ladies to shelter the elderly poor. She was also active in the Detroit Study Club and served as president of the Michigan Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs.

19. Location: 100 South Washington Square
Will Keith Kellogg
Agriculture, Business & Industry
W.K. Kellogg and his brother, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, developed a grain-flaking technique when they worked together at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Will Kellogg, one of many entrepreneurs who saw a business opportunity in the new breakfast foods, formed his own company in 1906. He changed American diets and eating habits with the tasty, nutritious, and convenient corn flake. Kellogg’s flair for marketing – free samples, big billboards, giveaways for kids – helped make his company the world’s leading cereal producer.
Having always believed in helping others, Kellogg established the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in 1930. The foundation, too, has become a leader in its field focusing on health, agriculture and education.

20. Location: 112 South Washington Square
Helen Thomas
b. 1920
Education & Literature
  Considered “The First Lady of the Press,” former White House Bureau Chief Helen Thomas is a trailblazer who broke through barriers for women reporters. Thomas worked for United Press International for more than 55 years covering every president since John F. Kennedy. She was the first woman officer of the National Press Club and the only female print journalist to accompany President Nixon on his breakthrough trip to China in 1972.
  The daughter of Lebanese immigrants, Thomas graduated from Detroit Public Schools and Wayne State University. In 2000 the Society of Professional Journalists named her the first recipient of the Helen Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award.
Note: Helen Thomas died in 2013.

21. Location: 228 South Washington Square
Rosa Parks
Civic & Community Leadership
  Rosa Parks became an icon of the modern Civil Rights movement for refusing to give up her Montgomery, Alabama, bus seat to a white passenger in December 1955. That defiant act fueled the movement that ended legal segregation in America.
  Because her notoriety made her unemployable in the South. Parks moved to Detroit in 1957. Involved in social causes throughout her life, Parks received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a Congressional Gold Medal. She was the first woman in American history to lie in honor at the U.S. Capitol.

22. Location: 330 South Washington Square
President Gerald R. Ford
b. 1913
Civic & Community Leadership
  Raised in Grand Rapids, Gerald Ford was an Eagle Scout, and an outstanding student and football star at South High School. He graduated from the University of Michigan, where he also was voted most valuable player on the football team, and later earned his law degree at Yale. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he represented the U.S. 5th Congressional District for a quarter century, earning national recognition during eight years as minority leader.
  Named by Richard Nixon to fill the vice presidential vacancy in 1973, Ford became President upon Nixon’s resignation the following year. Ford’s integrity and leadership restored confidence in government at a critical time in our nation’s history.
Note: Gerald Ford died in 2006.

23. Location: 404 South Washington Square
Henry Ford
Agriculture. Business & Industry
  Henry Ford transformed America by creating “a motor car for the great multitude.” Always interested in tinkering with machinery than in working on his parents’ Dearborn farm. Ford gravitated toward the young auto industry in the 1890’s.
  The Model T, introduced in 1908, was reasonably priced, simple to operate and easy to maintain. Tremendous demand for the car led Ford to make production changes resulting in the moving assembly line. The $5-a-day wage he offered in 1914 was equally unprecedented.
  Ford created the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village to preserve our American experience and heritage.


Took photos in January 2012 of the plaques.  I know they are not very good, there was a lot of snow melting salt on them, will have to go back in the summertime to take better photos. Here is a link.

* Compiled by Timothy Bowman.
Originally posted on Nov. 26, 2012. The W.K. Kellogg plaque was put back out after being missing for over 5 years in July 2014.
Revised this post on Oct. 22, 2014.


One response to “Michigan Walk of Fame

  1. Pingback: Lansing, Michigan History Links « lugnut215

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