Stormy Waters

A Wartime Mayor

"You are going to be ready for anything."

“Steering a city through troublesome times is just like piloting a ship through stormy waters. You don’t know what you are going to run into but you are going to be ready for anything. You may have to go through obstacles instead of around them. Or you may have to zigzag.” 

Editor's Note: Throughout World War II, Hartsfield prioritized the safety of Atlanta residents and the continual growth of the city. By March 1943, over nine-hundred employees of the city government were serving in the armed forces. Hartsfield regularly received letters from these civil servants turned soldiers asking for updates on their home city. Hartsfield could proudly respond that their city was doing its part for the war effort.

The above excerpt comes from an interview Hartsfield gave in 1942. One of Hartsfield’s wartime priorities was to ensure visiting soldiers to the city left with a good impression and the desire to return. In fact, many of Atlanta’s new residents after the war were veterans who first fell in love with the city when they were on leave from Fort Benning, Fort Oglethorpe, or Camp Jackson.

Another wartime priority for Hartsfield was continuing to grow Atlanta's air transportation. For the burgeoning Atlanta airport, he persuaded the city to purchase an additional 800 acres of land to extend the runways. During the war, these longer runways at Atlanta's airport could serve as an alternate airport for the large bomber planes built at the Bell Bomber plant in Marietta.