Hazen Pingree was born in Denmark, Maine, in 1840. He moved to Detroit where he became a successful shoe manufacturer.
Pingree held progressive political views and in 1890 he was the successful Republican Party candidate for mayor of Detroit. For the next six years he introduced several reforms including providing gardens for the unemployed (called Pingree's Potato Patches). In 1897 he was elected governor of Michigan in 1897 but died in office in 1901.