A Look Back: This Month In Atlanta History
By Ann Taylor Boutwell
April 1, 1910: The Atlanta Georgian newspaper’s front page carried the story of the arrival of the new police wagon called “Black Maria.” It caused a great deal of attention as it sped through city streets with its first passengers, the city’s police commissioners. That day the wagon went out Whitehall Street to West End, Peachtree to the Piedmont Driving Club and out Edgewood to Inman Park. The “Black Maria” could accommodate 12 or 15 prisoners.
April 4, 1997: The Atlanta Braves played their first game at the newly reconfigured Turner Field, which was built as the stadium for the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Braves beat the Cubs, 5-4.
April 8, 1974: Baseball fans go wild as Hank Aaron breaks Babe Ruth’s record by hitting home run number 715 at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.
April 16, 1925: Mayor Walter A. Sims signs a five-year lease on an abandoned auto racetrack and commits the city to developing it into an airfield. As part of the agreement, the 287 acres of land is renamed Candler Field after its former owner’s family, including Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler. The airfield would later be known as Atlanta Municipal Airport and eventually Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
April 19, 1936: Walter Rich, founder of Rich’s department store, sought to make Atlanta internationally known for the blooming of the dogwood trees during a week-long event called the Atlanta Dogwood Festival. Trees were planted in all parts of Atlanta under the sponsorship of the garden clubs and citizens interested in the beautification of the city. Pageants, parades and carnivals sponsored by the Junior League, along with performances by the Metropolitan Opera (it’s first appearance in the city in five years), Philadelphia Symphony, and choruses from local colleges, were featured.
April 12, 1916: Talented, vivacious and witty stage and silent screen actress Gladys Hanson married Charles Emerson Cook, playwright and producer. The Georgia native was a member of the Henry Miller theatrical company, and at age 26 played Ophelia in “Hamlet” on Broadway. Some of her stage credits include “Evensong,” “Mary Goes to See,” and “Brown Danube.” From 1914 to 1916, Hanson appeared in the films “The Straight Road” and “The Evangelist.” She also appeared in the film “The Havoc” with famous actor, Lewis Stone. She died February 23, 1973 and was buried in Westview Cemetery.
April 13, 1945: After his death from a cerebral hemorrhage at Warm Springs, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s funeral train stops in Atlanta to change engines on its way to Washington D.C. Thousands turned out to pay their condolences as the train arrived and departed the city.
April 20, 1868: In the aftermath of the Civil War, Atlanta is made state capital by order of the military governors overseeing reconstruction. Many had called for an election in 1847 to move the capital from Milledgeville but it was opposed by those who believed the seat of power should be more centrally located in the state.