By Maria Saporta
So close. But still not close enough.
Finally there’s a branding campaign to give equal billing to two great Atlanta mayors who helped ensure the city’s status as an aviation hub.
Huge posters welcome arriving passengers as they step off the escalators to go to baggage claim on the domestic terminal.
The headline says: “Two Men, One Vision: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.”
The wall-sized posters include large portraits of Atlanta Mayor William B. Hartsfield and Atlanta Mayor Maynard H. Jackson Jr.
“Somehow, Atlanta always meets the challenge… We have been doing it and will continue in the years to come.” – William B. Hartsfield, Mayor of Atlanta from 1937 to 1941 and from 1942 to 1961.
“We stand not as much as a gateway to the South but as a gateway to a new time, a new era, a new beginning for the cities of our land.” – Maynard H. Jackson Jr., Mayor of Atlanta from 1974 to 1982 and from 1990 to 1994.
The purpose of the “Two Men, One Vision” campaign is to make sure both men get their due when it comes to referencing Atlanta’s airport.
Old-time Atlantans worry that Mayor Hartsfield’s contributions to Atlanta’s ascendency as a hub of aviation gets overlooked during the modern era. It was Hartsfield who really stuck his neck out to invest millions of dollars in this new and untested mode of transportation.
It doesn’t help that the International Terminal is named after Maynard H. Jackson, but there is no similar designated naming in Hartsfield’s honor.
On the other hand, friends and family of Mayor Jackson have become increasingly concerned when people drop the Jackson name from the airport’s name. Sometimes people revert back to the airport’s former name before the Jackson name was added in 2003.
It was Jackson who led the push to build our current airport – the first phase of which was complete in 1980. That airport design developed in Atlanta – a fishbone with a spine in the middle and multiple concourses crossing that spine – became a national model.
Jackson’s also was a ground-breaking mayor who developed a minority-majority joint venture policy during the airport’s construction – again a model that was replicated nationally.
Again, people close to Jackson do not look favorably upon headline writers who leave off the Jackson name and just say Hartsfield airport often for space reasons.
So advocates for both mayors have valid points behind why each of the larger than life personalities in Atlanta’s history deserve greater recognition. In reality, both men deserve their due.
And I applaud the Atlanta City Council and airport officials for deciding we needed a better way to brand the airport and give proper credit to both men.
The branding firm of Jones Worley and Bigelow Advertising did a fine job coming up with the campaign and tagline: “Two Men, One Vision.”
The problem is that they didn’t go far enough.
We have two terminals – a domestic terminal and an international terminal. We have two names – Hartsfield and Jackson.
It was Hartsfield who put the pieces in place for our airport to grow as a domestic hub.
It was Jackson who put the pieces in place for our airport to grow as an international hub.
We have named our international terminal the Maynard H. Jackson Jr. International Terminal.
It’s time we name our domestic terminal the William B. Hartsfield Domestic Terminal.
Then the name of our hyphenated airport finally will make sense – logically and symbolically.
More importantly – we can devote some space at each terminal to properly honor each mayor by giving a thorough account of how their contributions changed Atlanta’s skyline – literally.
We have already begun to honor Mayor Jackson at the International Terminal. Let’s do the same for Mayor Hartsfield at the Domestic Terminal.
By doing so, we will be telling one of Atlanta’s greatest stories leadership – how power evolved over the decades with two radically different men guiding our city with a shared vision of progress.