a Roundtrip Down Memory Lane
By Anthony Edwards
Hartsfield-Jackson has a rich 83-year history. From Charles Lindbergh making a stop at Hartsfield-Jackson in 1927 to Nelson Mandela being greeted by 200 guests here, the Airport has a storied past.
Many others have traveled through Atlanta’s airport, including movie stars, professional sport teams and high-ranking officials. Whether it was when the Airport was called Candler Field, Atlanta Municipal Airport or its current moniker, Hartsfield-Jackson, it is always interesting to take a trip down memory lane at the world’s busiest airport.
1927 Charles Lindbergh is given a hero's welcome as he visits Atlanta in the Spirit of St. Louis.
1957 With nearly 2 million passengers passing through each year, Atlanta Municipal Airport becomes the busiest airport in the world for the first time.
1968 Coretta Scott King learns of Dr. King’s assassination from his secretary and Atlanta Mayor Ivan Allen Jr. after she arrives at the Airport for a flight to Memphis.
1975 Famous sports agent Leigh Steinberg’s life is changed after flying into a crowd of flashing lights and fans at the Atlanta Airport. He arrives with his client, first overall Atlanta Falcons draft pick Steve Bartkowski. Before becoming an agent, Steinberg was a dorm counselor in his last year of law school, but this media-crazed Atlanta event helped create the sports giant who inspired the hit movie “Jerry Maguire,” starring Tom Cruise.
1990 When Nelson Mandela arrives at the Airport, he is greeted by 200 invited guests, including Gov. Joe Frank Harris, Mayor Maynard Jackson and Coretta Scott King. He arrives to lay a wreath at the grave of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
1993 More than 3,000 people were overnight guests at Hartsfield-Jackson due to a blizzard that shut down the Airport for a day. All of the airports on the East Coast were closed due to this historic winter storm.
1996 The “Spirit of Atlanta” artwork by muralist Deborah Wian Whitehouse is installed at Hartsfield-Jackson near the escalators coming up to the terminal area. The photomural, featuring children of various backgrounds, was taken at Centennial Olympic Park and represents Atlanta’s diversity and legacy of the 1996 Olympic Games. It still hangs today.
2002 The Automated People Mover is named the world’s most heavily traveled airport transit system, carrying more than 64 million passengers.
2007 An employee’s pants at the Airport catches fire from an iPod nano at a Delta kiosk. A lithium-ion battery is thought to be the cause. Prior to this incident, other fires in laptops were reported across the nation. In 2006, distributors, including Apple, were told to recall batteries of this kind.
2008 Ben DeCosta celebrates 10 years as general manager of Hartsfield-Jackson. Also, Forbes.com ranks Hartsfield-Jackson the No. 1 airport nationally for Wi-Fi connectivity.