William B. Hartsfield

William Berry Hartsfield, Sr. (March 1, 1890 – February 22, 1971), was an American politician who served as the 49th and 51st Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia. His tenure extended from 1937 to 1941 and again from 1942 to 1962, making him the longest-serving mayor of his native Atlanta, Georgia.

William B. Hartsfield
Hartsfield in 1961
49th & 51st Mayor of Atlanta
In office
Preceded byGeorge B. Lyle Acting
Succeeded byIvan Allen, Jr.
In office
Preceded byJames L. Key
Succeeded byRoy LeCraw
Personal details
William Berry Hartsfield

March 1, 1890
Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
DiedFebruary 22, 1971 (aged 80)
Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)(1) Pearl Williams Hartsfield (married 1913-1962, divorced)
(2) Tollie Bedenbaugh Tolan Hartsfield
ChildrenWilliam B. Hartsfield, Jr.

Mildred Hartsfield

Carl Tolan Hartsfield (adopted)

Hartsfield is credited with developing Atlanta's airport into a national aviation center and ensuring a good water supply with the completion of the Buford Dam. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is named in Hartsfield's honor as well as a later mayor, Maynard Jackson, who led the modernization of the airport in the 1970s.

Hartsfield was responsible for fostering Atlanta's image as "the city too busy to hate" during the civil rights struggles of the 1950s. In 1957, he won election to his last term as mayor by defeating the staunch segregationist and future Governor Lester Maddox.

Willie B., a gorilla that became a popular attraction at Zoo Atlanta for decades, was named for Hartsfield.

Hartsfield received an honorary degree in Doctor of Laws from Oglethorpe University in 1961.[1]


  1. "Honorary Degrees Awarded by Oglethorpe University". Oglethorpe University. Archived from the original on 2015-03-19. Retrieved 2015-03-13.
  • Charlie Brown Remembers Atlanta (1982), Charles M. Brown, R. L. Bryan Company
  • Williams, Louis. 2002. "William B. Hartsfield (1890-1971)". New Georgia Encyclopedia. Georgia Humanities Council.

Further reading

Preceded by
James L. Key
Mayor of Atlanta
Succeeded by
Roy LeCraw
Preceded by
George B. Lyle (acting)
Mayor of Atlanta
Succeeded by
Ivan Allen, Jr.

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