Hartsfield-Jackson: two men, one vision; let’s name domestic terminal in Hartsfield’s honor

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.”

Hartsfield Jackson poster

Two Men, One Vision poster at Hartsfield- Jackson Atlanta International Airport welcoming arriving passengers (Photos by Maria Saporta)

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.

Airport Atrium

Atrium at Hartsfield-Jackson’s domestic terminal

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.

Hartsfield quote

William B. Hartsfield quote on the wall poster at the airport

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.

Jackson quote

A quote from Maynard H. Jackson Jr. on the wall poster at the airport

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.

Hartsfield- Jackson branding

People walk by the posters show the gigantic faces of William B. Hartsfield and Maynard H. Jackson Jr. at the Atlanta aiport

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.

Hartsfield Jackson domestic terminal

A walkway at Hartsfield-Jackson’s domestic terminal

Hartsfield book

A cover of a book about William B. Hartsfield: “What’s In a Name: A Historical Perspective of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport 1925-2014” written by Dale Hartsfield

 

Maria Saporta, Editor, is a longtime Atlanta business, civic and urban affairs journalist with a deep knowledge of our city, our region and state.  Since 2008, she has written a weekly column and news stories for the Atlanta Business Chronicle. Prior to that, she spent 27 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, becoming its business columnist in 1991. Maria received her Master’s degree in urban studies from Georgia State and her Bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. Maria was born in Atlanta to European parents and has two young adult children.

6 replies
  1. Veritas96 says:

    People will call it by whatever name is familiar: leaving out Jackson is not a slight.  The biggest problem dividing us today is that people’s butts get so hurt anymore.  Why not drop all the b.s. and call it Atlanta International Airport.  That should be sanitary enough for everyone to be pacified.  What is really ridiculous is the City Council’s involvement in this and the study to understand why people refer to the airport as they do.  All of these actions costs money and, likely, limits productivity.Report

    Reply
  2. therealmattdamon says:

    I remember Jackson for hustling Delta for all the loot he could get.  He even had the city buy a useless terminal for no other reason than to spite Delta, who then realized they didn’t need it after all.  His cronies,now out-of-state billionaires, still hold some of the plum concessions.

    The fact that the Atlanta Airport survived Maynard Jackson and Bill Campbell, who fired Angela Gittens, is a testament to its vitality.Report

    Reply
  3. junehodges says:

    Candler Field was the ‘mother’ of today’s airport.  If we are going to play this name game, then mayor Candler should be honored there in some manner.  Actually, Atlanta International Airport would probably suffice , and would eliminate silly infighting over whose name goes where.Report

    Reply

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