1782 – 1859 | 1860 – 1864 | 1865 – 1877 | 1878 – 1899 | 1900 – 1930 | 1931 – 1960 | 1961 – 1986
1961 – 1986
- The Chamber of Commerce and black leaders announce an agreement that would end segregation at downtown lunch counters (and protests thereof) within 30 days of desegregation of Atlanta public schools. All charges against the students would be dropped.
- Four white high schools are integrated by nine black kids. Georgia Tech desegregates with the admission of three black students.
- “Atlanta” magazine, designed to promote the city, is launched in association with the Chamber of Commerce’s Forward Atlanta Program.
- Mayor Harsfield retires and Ivan Allen Jr becomes mayor after defeating Lester Maddox in the primary.
- The Merchandise Mart, a project of Edwards & Portman Architects, opens.
- A new $20-million air terminal opens.
- On urging of the Police Chief, Mayor Allen removes restrictions on black cops that have been in effect since 1947.
- Twenty-three students are arrested at Grady Hospital for protesting segregation of its facilities.
- The feds rule Georgia’s “county unit” system unconstitutional, thus increasing Atlanta’s legislators from one to 12, one of whom (LeRoy Johnson) is black.
- One hundred eleven Atlanta art patrons die in a plane crash at Orly field in Paris. The shock of the tragedy will lead to the creation of the Woodruff Arts Center.
- Among Atlanta area schools agreeing to accept blacks this year: Agnes Scott, Atlanta Speech School, DeKalb Area Trade Schools, Emory, Oglethorpe, Smith-Hughes Vocational School, Trinity Presyterian. (Georgia State College did so the year before.)
- In July, area movie theatre owners meet and agree to admit six black patrons per performance through August 5, and open to as many who want after that, assuming there are no incidents. But if integration causes trouble, the theatres claim the right to resegregate.
- Martin Luther King Jr gives his “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington on August 28.
- Martin Luther King Jr has his first public appearance in Atlanta, his home town, in December.
- Lester Maddox, wielding gun and ax handle, chases blacks from his Pickrick restaurant on Northside Drive near Georgia Tech in early July. The following month, Maddox closes the restaurant after being ordered to desegregate under the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding non-discrimination in public accomodations.
- Work resumes on the Stone Mountain carving.
- The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to Martin Luther King Jr.
- Grady Hospital begins desegregrating.
- The new Atlanta Stadium opens and will be the home of the Atlanta Crackers for one year. (Although the Braves play one three-game series there with the Detroit Tigers, they officially finish that season back in Milwaukee.)
- Atlanta has the lowest unemployment rate in the nation with 2.2 percent.
- Julian Bond is refused a seat in the Georgia House because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.
- In April, the Atlanta Braves play their first game in the new stadium. Stone Mountain Park opens that same month.
- The Atlanta Historical Society purchases Swan House as its headquarters.
- The NFL comes to Atlanta on the wings of the Falcons. No other city ever got both pro baseball and football teams in the same year.
- In a September race riot in the Summerhill neighborhood which came after a suspected car thief is shot escaping a white cop, 138 are arrested and 35 injured. Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee’s (SNCC’s) Stokely Carmichael is indicted for inciting a riot, and Julian Bond resigns from SNCC.
- Although Bo Callaway grabs the popular vote for Governor, he lacks a majority and the Legislature picks Lester Maddox as governor.
- The U.S. Supreme Court upholds Julian Bond’s right to be a Georgia legislator.
- Atlanta Constitution editor Eugene Patterson wins Pulitzer Prize for editorials.
- Six Flags Over Georgia opens.
- In June, Stokely Carmichael is arrested, followed by racial unrest in which one black dies and three are wounded. Mayor Allen declares a curfew.
- Governor’s Mansion on West Paces Ferry Road opens, with Lester Maddox as its first occupant.
- On April 4, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is shot to death in Memphis. On April 9, he’s buried after a march through Atlanta streets that is televised nationwide.
- Four convicts attempt to escape the Federal Penitentiary, taking 25 hostages. The Atlanta Journal prints the prisoners’ list of complaints, and the hostages are freed.
- The “Memorial Arts Center,” later the “Robert W. Woodruff Arts Center,” opens.
- The NBA comes to Atlanta with the purchase of St. Louis Hawks, brought in by Tom Cousins. First games played at Georgia Tech’s Alexander Memorial Coliseum.
- November Elections: Fulton and DeKalb voters reject MARTA bonds, Herman Talmadge defeats Maynard Jackson for U.S. Senator.
- The Greater Atlanta Council on Human Relations, a very active white group promoting racial change in Atlanta, goes out of existence with the Civil Rights laws and the elimination of legal segregation.
- The Atlanta Municipal Theatre produces the satire “Red, White and Maddox,” which imagines Lester Maddox becoming president in 1972 and starting a war with the USSR. The show later moved to Broadway in New York, closing after 41 performances at the Cort Theatre.
- Underground Atlanta opens.
- The Justice Department sues eighty Georgia school systems for racial segregation, including Decatur’s.
- In August, there are altercations as police arrest hippies for drugs near Piedmont Park.
- Sam Massell becomes first Jewish Mayor of Atlanta. Maynard Jackson, a black, becomes vice mayor, with black aldermen increased from one to five, and Benjamin Mays is elected to Board of Education.
- Mayor Sam Massell takes office, appoints blacks as chairmen of Finance and Police Committees.
- The Stone Mountain carving, a Confederate Memorial, is finally finished and dedicated, after 50 years of construction.
- Jimmy Carter, a former state senator, is elected governor.
- Former Mayor William B. Hartsfield dies, and within a month, they name the airport after him. In July, Hartsfield Airport becomes Hartsfield International Airport after Eastern Airlines inaugurates daily non-stop flights to Mexico City.
- Mayor Massell proposes legislation to expand the city by 50,000 (mostly white) residents, citing loss of inner-city businesses. Blacks call it racist; Governor Maddox kills it in the Senate.
- The Water Department desegregates itself after a call from Mayor Massell the year before for all city departments to “change with a goal of 50 percent minority employment” within 40 months.
- Atlanta, Fulton and DeKalb residents give thumbs up to a four percent sales tax for MARTA bonds. Gwinnett and Clayton voters defeat it for their counties.
- Mayor Massell names Lt. John Inman Chief of Police on the retirement of Herbert Jenkins, chief since 1947.
- MARTA buys the Atlanta Transit Company for $12.8-million.
- Ted Turner begins broadcasting Braves games on his UHF TV station, Channel 17.
- On behalf of 26 black parents, the ACLU sues nine metro-area school boards (cities of Atlanta, Decatur, Marietta, and Buford, and the counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb, Gwinnett, and Clayton) to develop a desegregation plan.
- The Omni Stadium opens at a cost of $17-million.
- Andy Young becomes the Souths’ first black U.S. Congressman since reconstruction.
- There’s a settlement in the Atlanta desegregation lawsuit: busing will assure at least 30 percent blacks in all schools, the black-white faculty ratio will change, and a black superintendent will oversee an integrated board. Later, Dr. Alonzo Crim is named superintendent, and a federal court orders busing of 2,761 white students.
- Maynard Jackson becomes Atlanta’s first black mayor by defeating its first Jewish mayor, Sam Massell, in a contest filled with charges of racism on both sides. Under the new city charter approved by voters, Wyche Fowler defeats Hosea Williams for City Council President.
- As Maynard Jackson is sworn in, his new city council is 50 percent black.
- Atlanta Brave Hank Aaron hits his 715th home run, breaking Babe Ruth’s lifetime record. The nation watches on TV and cheers him on.
- Mayor Jackson tries to fire Police Chief Inman, who is accused of corruption, mismanagement and racism. Inman, claiming that the new city charter is unconstitutional, refuses to leave and stays until his retirement. Meanwhile, Reginald Eaves (Inman’s replacement) is named Public Safety Commissioner, with authority above that of Police Chief.
- The Fox Theatre, almost sold to Southern Bell as site of the phone company’s new headquarters, is saved from destruction with pressure from Fox supporters and the cooperation of Southern Bell.
- Martin Luther King Jr’s mother is murdered. Marcus Wayne Chenault is arraigned after killing Mrs. King and another person while attending church services at Ebenezer Baptist Church. His attorney said Chenault believed God gave him a mission to kill Mrs. King. Her husband, MLK’s father, is pastor. He retires the following year.
- George Busbee elected governor.
- White businessmen denounce “black racism as a co-equal threat to the city,” and a group of downtown business people write a letter to Jackson and Fowler warning that some businesses are considering moving, partly because of crime, racial imbalance, and “perceived attitude that the mayor is anti-white.” (Atlanta now estimated to be 55 percent black.)
- The house where Martin Luther King was born is placed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Nearby, ground breaks for the MLK Jr. Center for Non-Violent Social Change.
- In late March, a Tornado hits Atlanta, killing three.
- Richard Rich dies. He was head of Rich’s Department Store and grandson of the founder.
- White enrollment in Atlanta schools drops to 13 percent. The Georgia Legislature receives proposals to allow the city to annex nearby white suburbs.
- The U.S. Justice Department sues Atlanta’s Fire Department for discrimination against black fire fighters.
- Ted Turner says he’ll buy the Braves for $12-million.
- Despite controversy, crime is reduced during Reginald Eaves’ term as Public Safety Commissioner, along with an increased police presence: from 1970 to 1975, the number of police officers grew by 50 percent, from just under 1,000 to over 1,500.
- The Georgia World Congress Center opens at a cost of $35-million. It contains the world’s largest exhibition hall (352,000 square feet).
- Across the street in Omni Center (later, CNN Center), “The World of Sid & Marty Krofft,” an indoor amusement park, opens for business but closes a few months later. (The space is, at this writing, occupied by CNN’s world headquarters.)
- Governor Jimmy Carter is elected president. Georgians Griffin Bell and Andrew Young are nominated to be Attorney General and U.N. Ambassador respectively.
- Ted Turner buys the Hawks, his second pro team. In September, he wins the America’s Cup yacht race.
- Rather than proclaim a “Gay Pride” day on June 24, Mayor Jackson proclaims “Liberties Day” to honor all minorities. (In the Fall, Jackson is re-elected.)
- Loew’s Grand Theatre, where Gone With The Wind premiered in 1939, burns down in January. Five months later, the land is sold to a real-estate company.
- Mayor Jackson fires Reginald Eaves after reports that he knew of, and possibly authorized, cheating on the 1975 police promotion exams. The City Council names Lee Brown to the post and George Napper as new Police Chief. (Former Police Chief Inman stays on as “Director of the Bureau of Police Service.”)
- Citing Georgia’s not having ratified the Equal Rights Amendment, the American Psychological Association relocates its 1979 convention from Atlanta to New York.
- MARTA bus fares, until now the lowest in the nation, go up from 15 to 25 cents.
- A Federal Court strikes down Atlanta’s right to license adult entertainment establishments, finding the ordinance too vague.
- Three-Hundred Klansmen hold a cross-burning ceremony at Stone Mountain.
- Bert Lance found not guilty of almost all of his bank fraud charges, and the remaining three were later dropped. Lance had been director of the OMB in the Carter administration.
- On June 1, Cable News Network (CNN) begins broadcasting. Ted Turner’s 24-hour channel begins operations with about 250 employees working out of the old Progressive Club on Techwood Drive near Georgia Tech.
- MARTA fares double, over the protests of Atlanta officials, from 25 to 50 cents.
- Hartsfield International Airport reopens in a huge, new facility.
- WSB-TV (channel 2) switches networks from NBC to ABC. WXIA-TV (channel 11) switches from ABC to NBC.
- The Falcons win the Western Division of the NFC. Atlanta’s pro hockey team, the Flames, are sold and move to Calgary.
- Metro Atlanta’s population tops 2 million, making it the nation’s 16th most populous area. Figures also show Atlanta is now 66 percent black.
- The Chiefs win the North American Soccer League’s eastern division indoor championship for the second straight season.
- The nation is stunned by the story of Atlanta’s “murdered and missing children.” President Reagan allocates funds to the investigation. In June, 23-year-old black cameraman Wayne Williams is arrested and indicted for some of the killings.
- MARTA fares go up again, this time from 50 to 60 cents.
- Hartsfield briefly bumps Chicago’s O’Hare and becomes the world’s busiest airport in terms of passengers served.
- Andrew Young elected Mayor; Marvin Arrington elected City Council President.
- The “Great Park” Authority, overseeing the proposed conversion of 219 acres of Atlanta land into a park, endorses that it include the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and a Presidential Parkway leading to it. Opponents of “the road” march on the Capitol.
- The Atlanta Journal and Atlanta Constitution say they’ll combine news gathering in Metro Atlanta.
- Wayne Williams is convicted and sentenced to two life terms for the murders of two of the “missing and murdered children.” Twenty-six other such cases are closed.
- The Braves win the Western Division title, the team’s first since 1969.
- Atlanta Public Library system is handed over to Fulton County to run it.
- The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra goes on strike for seven weeks, finally settling on musician’s 1984-85 salary levels of $585 per week.
- President Reagan signs a law making Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a federal holiday.
- The Grant Park Zoo is called one of the nation’s worst by the American Humane Society. Later in the year, Mayor Young calls for an investigation of the zoo after the deaths of a tiger, a lioness, and Twinkles, a young elephant that had somehow illegally ended up in a travelling circus.
- Governor Joe Frank Harris signs into law the bill making MLK’s birthday a state holiday.
- Georgia authorizes the widening of Georgia 400 from I-285 to North Fulton County. The previous year, the City Council deadlocked on having the parkway run south of I-285.
- Tensions increase at Atlanta’s Federal Penitentiary, culminating in November with an eight-hour siege by Cuban prisoners protesting conditions and treatment. Early the next year, some are released while others are deported.
- Coca-Cola philanthropist Robert W. Woodruff dies at the age of 95.
- Atlanta and Fulton agree to pay to fix up the zoo, later renaming it the Atlanta-Fulton County Zoo.
- The City Council halts construction of the Presidential Parkway, but later, the Georgia Supreme Court — and the next year, a federal court — say the state can continue.
- Underground Atlanta gets the City Council’s okay for a $135-million renovation.
- The City Council tries to put a moratorium on demolishing historic structures, but Mayor Young vetoes the resolution.
- The Carter Presidential Center is dedicated.
- In the Democratic run-off, John Lewis defeats Julian Bond for the 5th Congressional seat in a race that deeply divides Atlanta’s black community.