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William B. Hartsfield

Metro Atlanta
March 1, 1890 - Atlanta

When you help guide a city through a depression and then, later, guide it through the civil rights era...when you are responsible for Atlanta’s becoming the aviation capital that it is…then it’s fair to say you’ve had an impact.
William Hartsfield was mayor of Atlanta longer than any other person. He was born in Atlanta in 1890 and began his long political career on the city council in 1922. He led the move to lease Candler Speedway in Hapeville for a landing field in 1925 -- the beginning of his longtime promotion of commercial aviation.
Hartsfield became mayor in 1936 and served a total of 23 years. He built biracial coalitions and his steady leadership navigated Atlanta through the civil rights movement, avoiding the violence that plagued cities like Birmingham. After his death in 1971, Atlanta named the airport in his honor.
The man who helped make Atlanta "the city too busy to hate" was born on March 1, 1890, Today in Georgia History.

Fast Fact

Willie B, a beloved gorilla at Zoo Atlanta for many years, was named after William Hartsfield.

Today in Georgia History is a joint collaboration of the Georgia Historical Society & Georgia Public Broadcasting.