Ivan Allen Jr.

Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen Jr. was born on this day in 1911. In honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth, we highlight a few of the primary resources found in the Digital Library of Georgia related to Allen and the life he devoted to Georgia’s capital city throughout most of the twentieth century.

Ivan Allen Jr. was born on March 15th 1911 in Atlanta to parents Ivan Allen Sr. and Irene Beaumont Allen. Below is his birth announcement from the March 16th issue of the Atlanta Georgian which can be found in the Atlanta Historic Newspapers Archive. During the first half of the twentieth century, his father was a prominent businessman in Atlanta and after he graduated from Georgia Tech, young Ivan joined the family business. He eventually took over the Ivan Allen Company upon his father’s retirement in 1946. His influence in the city’s business community grew and in 1960 he was elected president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

In 1961, Ivan Allen Jr. ran for the open mayoral position in Atlanta and won the office over future governor Lester Maddox. The political cartoon to the right (from Richard B. Russell Library’s Baldy Collection) depicts the first of many political battles the two would wage in Atlanta. The division between Allen and Maddox throughout most of the decade was representative of the split in the Democratic Party in the South during the 1960s.

Atlanta experienced a period of great economic and infrastructural growth during Allen’s two terms as mayor. Under his leadership, over fifty new buildings were added downtown, interstate highways were introduced, the Hartsfield International Airport was expanded, and 22,000 new jobs were added to the city’s workforce each year.  Allen also oversaw the construction of what came to be known as Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium (below) and in 1965 he coaxed the Milwaukee Braves into moving to Atlanta to play there. The Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta Hawks were also established in the city during his tenure as mayor.

Ivan Allen Jr. was well known for his progressive stance in regard to civil rights in Atlanta. As president of the city’s Chamber of Commerce, before becoming mayor, he worked with the city’s business leaders to desegregate lunch counters. Upon taking office, he embraced former mayor William B. Hartsfield’s lead in promoting Atlanta as “the City Too Busy to Hate.” During his first year as mayor, he desegregated City Hall and removed racial barriers in the city’s police and fire departments. In 1963, he was the only southern elected leader to support the public accommodations section of what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and he testified before Congress to convey that support. Allen was also an ardent supporter of the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and had the unfortunate duty of notify Coretta Scott King of her husband’s assassination in 1968. Below is a video from the Civil Rights Digital Library of Allen escorting Mrs. King to the airport after she received the news.

Allen stepped down as mayor in 1970 after serving two terms, but continued his work as an advocate for the city of Atlanta until his death on July 2, 2003.  To learn more about Ivan Allen Jr., take a look at his article in the New Georgia Encyclopedia. He also wrote an autobiography in 1971 called Mayor: Notes on the Sixties about his experiences as the mayor of Atlanta during one of the nation’s most turbulent decades.


It’s in Georgia. . . really, it is!

There are a number of place names in Georgia that are more famously associated with other states. For example, everyone knows Nashville, Tennessee, as the center of the country music world. But there is also a Nashville, Georgia, which is the county seat of Berrien County in south Georgia. While much smaller than Music City, we are sure some folks there can belt out a country tune.

Nashville, GA

Knoxville, Tennessee, is noted as the home of the University of Tennessee. Knoxville, Georgia, is not the home of a big school, but is the county seat of Crawford County. And fortunately, its citizens do not wear all orange! At least when it’s not hunting season.

Knoxville, GA

Moving north from Tennessee takes one to Lexington, Kentucky – home to another Southeastern Conference school, the University of Kentucky. Once again, our Lexington is not home to a big school, but is important in its own right: as the county seat of Oglethorpe County. Lexington is also home to one of Georgia’s most beautiful courthouses.

Lexington, GA

The other big city in Kentucky is famous for horse racing: Louisville, home to the Kentucky Derby. While Louisville, Georgia, is not noted for fast horses, it did serve as the state capital in the late 1790s and early 1800s. Today, it is the county seat of Jefferson County. And one other interesting note: here in Georgia we prefer to pronounce the ‘s’ in Louisville!

Louisville, GA

When one thinks of Greensboro, one normally thinks of North Carolina. But we have a Greensboro of our own right here in Georgia. Aptly named too, as it is the county seat of Greene County. Both city and county were named for Revolutionary War hero Nathanael Greene.

Greensboro, GA

Greenville is usually associated with the large city in South Carolina. But again, we have a small town of our own named Greenville, the county seat of Meriwether County. Like Greensboro, Greenville was also named in honor of Nathanael Greene.

Greenville, GA

What do you think of when you hear Jacksonville? Florida, beaches, raucous football games once a year? Well, we do too, but there are actually two places in Georgia where they likely think differently: one in north Georgia’s Towns County and one in south Georgia’s Telfair County. No beaches in our Jacksonvilles, and hopefully not many Gators. There may be a few Bulldogs, though.

Jacksonville, GA

A place where one would expect to find a lot of Gators (of the human variety) is Gainesville, Florida: home of the University of Florida. But nestled near Lake Lanier in northeast Georgia is our own version of Gainesville. This Gainesville is the county seat of Hall County. For a relatively small city, it has a noted history: its courthouse square was destroyed by a tornado in 1936. When the courthouse square was rebuilt, it was dedicated by a speech from President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Gainesville, GA

While football Gators reside to the south, to the west lies another football opponent for the University of Georgia: Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. But the Dawgs do not have to cross the state line to find an Auburn: there is a small town by that name just up the road from Athens in Barrow County. We have not seen many Tigers prowling around our Auburn, nor many War Eagles flying overhead. Bulldogs – of the human and canine variety – are common here.

Auburn, GA

Moving a little further west, one finds Jackson, the capital of Mississippi. While our Jackson here in Georgia is not the state capital, it is the county seat of Butts County. To our knowledge Johnny and June Carter Cash never sang a song about Jackson, Georgia, but we think they would have if they visited!

Jackson, GA

While Jackson is the capital of Mississippi, the University of Mississippi resides in Oxford. We can match that name here too: there is an Oxford in Newton County. And there is a college there as well, Oxford College of Emory University. Not as large as Oxford, Mississippi, perhaps, but the natives of Oxford are justifiably proud of their small town. And the education offered by Emory is enviable anywhere.

Oxford, GA

Moving even further west, past Louisiana and into the big state of Texas, finds one of the nation’s largest cities: Dallas. Famed for many things – Cowboys, a TV show, the oil industry – Dallas is unique, right? Well the city perhaps, but not the name. Dallas, Georgia, is the county seat of Paulding County, in west central Georgia. No professional football teams, no villainous J.R. Ewing characters, just southern charm in our Dallas!

Dallas, GA

From the south, we go north – way north – to New York and their state capital of Albany: a name we can also match. In Georgia, you have to go south – to Dougherty County – to find the county seat and our very own Albany. But don’t head down there pronouncing it like the Yankee city, down here we call it All Benny! Albany, Georgia, is also an important city for understanding the history of the Civil Rights movement in Georgia.

Albany, GA

What do you think of when you hear Bean Town, Red Sox, Tea Parties (the original version)? Boston, Massachusetts of course. In deep south Georgia’s Thomas County lies our own Boston – they may grow beans, and play baseball, and we’re sure they love sweet iced tea like all good Southerners. Probably not much in common with Boston, MA, except the name.

Boston, Georgia

Staying in the north, but not quite so far up, we find Cleveland, Ohio, sitting on the shore of Lake Erie. No huge body of water is necessary for our Cleveland: nestled in the north Georgia mountains, it is the county seat of White County. Tourism plays a major role in Cleveland, Georgia, as it is known as the “Gateway to the Moutains.” Also housed here is one of the more unique tourist destinations in the state: Babyland General Hospital, birthplace of the Cabbage Patch Kids!

Cleveland, GA

Hollywood, California: Tinsel Town, home of the stars, origin of the famous Charlie Sheen rants! While the movie industry has been kind to Georgia in recent years, it has not (to our knowledge) reached our own Hollywood: a small town along the Habersham County/Stephens County border. You won’t see giant white letters announcing the town, but we think you can safely walk the streets of Hollywood, Georgia, without fear of paparazzi!

Hollywood, GA

Washington, D.C., is our nation’s capital. Most states also have a city or town named after our first president, and Georgia is no exception. Our Washington is the county seat of Wilkes County. Interestingly, the area where Washington now sits was settled before Washington, D.C., was established. Washington, Georgia, is reputed to be the first city named in honor of George Washington.

Washington, GA

You can see many more interesting place names on the Georgia Place Names site, part of GeorgiaInfo. And you can see where they are located by visiting the Historical Atlas of Georgia Counties.