Georgia remained a farming state until after World War II, which ended in 1945. The number of people living in the country remained the same from 1920 to 1960. In 1920, there were 2.1 million people living in rural areas. In 1960, there were 1.98 million living in rural areas. By 1990, however, the percentage of the population living in the country would drop to only a quareter of those in georgia. Georgia’s cities had begun to grow. Today, less than 2% of Georgians are inovled with farms – either living on them or working on them. Most Georgai farms sell less than $10,000 in products a year.
William B. Hartsfield
William B. Hartsfield (1890-1971) served as mayor of Atlanta for longer than any other mayor in the city’s history – six terms, from 1937 to 1961. During his tenure, Atlanta’s population multipied by ten times – from 100,000 to 1 million. Another improtant change was the laws governing people of color. Hartsfield promoted the idea of Atlanta as “A City Too Busy To Hate.”
Hartsfield’s political career began at the age of 32, when he was elected to the Atlanta City Council. There, he worked to build Atlanta’s aviation industry. At the time that he began this campaign – in the 1920s – people did not yet fly on airplanes for travel as they do today. In 1928, he was named Atlanta’s “father of aviation” by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
In 1924, Hartsfield ran for the Georgia House of Representatives, but lost. He ran again in 1932 and was elected to represent Fulton County. In 1936, Hartsfield was elected as Atlanta’s mayor. The Great Depression had hurt Atlanta’s economy a great deal by that time. He secured donations from Coca-Cola for the city’s funding. Hartsfield’s strict budgeting helped the city recover from the Great Depression by 1938.
Hartsfield was defeated as mayor in 1940. However, when the U.S. joined World War II in 1941, the sitting mayor joined the military. A special election was held in 1942 and Hartsfield won again. He was elected in four more elections.
In 1952, Atlanta tripled its size from 37 to 128 square miles, adding 100,000 people to its population. Hartsfield presided over the construction of expressways and parks throughout the city.
In 1961, Hartsfield chose not to run for office again, and was named mayor emeritus of the city. He died in 1971, and the Atlanta airport was renamed in his honor.
Ivan Allen, Jr.
Ivan Allen, Jr. (1911-2003) served in World War II. Then, he worked for the governor and then in his father’s business. When Hartsfield left office, he won the following election and served as mayor from 1962 to 1970. Many people thought Allen kept the city calm during the civil rights movement.
As mayor, Allen was politically liberal. When he took office, it was still common to see signs on public facilities, like water fountains, saying “White Only.” Allen’s first act as mayor was to order these signs removed from City Hall. Before he took office, black police officers could not arrest white people and there no black firefighters. Allen ended these rules.
Allen worked with civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. He was the only politician from the South to speak in favor of the Civil Rights Act in the U.S. Congress. By 1964, Allen was able to bring desegregation to all public facilities in Atlanta.
Unfortunately, Allen was also mayor during the construction of concrete wall intended to keep black people away from a white area. This incident was called the Peyton Road Affair. The wall was later found to be unconstitutional and was torn down.
Allen worked to bring the Atlanta Braves to the city. He worked to build the Atlanta Stadium for a team and then convinced the team to move from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He also helped to bring major league football and basketball teams to the city in the late 1960s.
When the Braves moved to Atlanta, they were the first professional sports team to be located in the South. In 1966, the baseball team played its first season. In 1969, they won the Western Division of the National League. Throughout the 1970s, however, the Braves continued to be one of the worst professional teams. One player, however, Hank Aaron, set the 1974 record for the most homeruns, in front of a television audience of millions.
In 1976, entrepreneur and billionaire Ted Turner bought the Braves. Turner owned a cable network and he wanted to play the team’s games on his channel. This was the beginning of the well-known cable television stations, TBS. The station televised Braves games throughout the country.
Through the 1980s, the Braves continued to play poorly. In 1991, the team hired new players. The season ended with the team winning the Western Division title. Through the early 1990s, the numbers of fans attending games rocketed to 3 million. Finally, in 1995, the Braves won the World Series. It was the first time a major league team in Georgia had won a national title. The Braves made it to the World Series two more time, in 1996 and 1999. Both times, however, they lost to the New York Yankees.
In 1965, the Atlanta Falcons football team joined the National Football League. Rankin M. Smith of the Life Insurance Company of Georgia purchased the team for $8.5 million.
Like the Braves, the Falcons played their first game in 1966, at Atlanta Stadium. Through the mid-1970s, the Falcons were not a particularly strong team. Beginning in 1977, the team began to improve. They reached the play-offs three times, but continued to play losing seasons through 1997.
In 1998, they played in the Super Bowl for the first time, but lost. Since 1998, the team has continued to struggle for wins. Today, Arthur Blank and Rick McKay of The Home Deport own the Falcons.
The Atlanta Hawks, a basketball team that plays in the National Basketball Association, moved to Atlanta in 1968. They play at the Philips Arena. The team moved to Atlanta from St. Louis, Missouri.
Georgia real estate developer Thomas Cousins and former Georgia Governor Carl Sanders purchased the team for Atlanta. The team went through several seasons of unsuccessful play, however. Then in 1977, Ted Turner purchased the team. In 1980, the team won the Central Division title. Although many players and coaches have strong records as individuals the team has never won a major championship. The Hawks are currently owned by principal owner Tony Ressler, partner Grant Hill, head coach (and future head of basketball operations) Mike Budenholzer, and CEO Steve Koonin. The Hawks are currently coached by Michael Vincent Budenholzer, the twelfth coach since the Hawks moved to Atlanta in 1968.
The Atlanta Thrashers was a hockey team that played in the National Hockey League. It came to Atlanta in 1999 when it was purchased by Ted Turner. The team was ten owned by Atlanta Spirit. Atlanta Spirit bought the Hawks, the Thrashers, and the Philips Arena for $250 million. Although the Thrashers never had a winning season, they were active in community service. In May 2011, the team was sold and relocated from Atlanta to Canada.
Ellis Arnall (1907-1992) served as governor of Georgia from 1943 to 1947. During his tenure Arnall aggressively reformed Georgia government and paid off the state debt.
He was elected to represent Coweta County in the Georgia House of Representatives when he was just 25 years old. At only 31, he was appointed attorney general of the state, the youngest attorney general in the country at that time. In 1942, at the age of just 35, Arnall defeated Eugene Talmadge and became governor, also the youngest in the nation.
Arnall worked to bring progressive reform to the state. Georgia’s universities had fallen out of accreditation, which Arnall worked to restore. He also reformed the state prisons, tax system, and constitution and lowered the state’s voting age. Arnall also backed a liberal candidate who was unpopular in Georgia, in the 1944 presidential election.
In addition, Arnall’s reforms allowed black voters to vote in the state’s white-only primary elections. Court rulings had already held that such primaries were unconstitutional. Other states had avoided enforcing such rulings, but Arnall did not. The politically powerful Eugene Talmadge unseated Arnall in the next governor’s race.