March 9, 1960
Atlanta University Center students publish “An Appeal for Human Rights,” a full-page ad that decries Atlanta’s systemic racial, social, and economic injustices. Students and adult allies begin a series of sit-ins and boycotts that continues all year. In October, Martin Luther King Jr. and student Lonnie King (no relation) are arrested at Rich’s, prompting intervention from the Kennedy campaign that observers believe swayed the 1960 election.
>> Read our March 2010 article on the Atlanta Student Movement.
June 6, 1960
Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry” tops the Billboard Top 40.
May 1, 1961
Atlanta magazine is launched by the Chamber of Commerce.
May 3, 1961
The airport “jet” terminal opens. By year’s end, its 6 million capacity is stretched to 9 million.
July 19–21, 1961
Foreshadowing future crowds, 15,000 attend the Atlanta Merchandise Mart debut.
August 30, 1961
Public schools are integrated in a campaign coordinated by community groups, Mayor William Hartsfield, Police Chief Herbert Jenkins, and the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.
January 2, 1962
On his first day in office, Ivan Allen Jr. removes the “white” and “colored” signs from City Hall water fountains and restrooms, indicative of the changes to come over the next eight years.
September 1, 1962
“Sheila” by Atlanta native Tommy Roe hits number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Roe, who got his start playing frat parties at Tech and UGA, was one of the first artists nurtured by Bill Lowery, whose eponymous Atlanta-based label produces gospel, country (Joe South, Billy Joe Royal), and such sixties dance classics as the Tams’ “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy.” Lowery is inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 1979.
November 6, 1962
Leroy Johnson is elected to the state senate, the first African American to serve in more than fifty years. Carl Sanders is elected governor.
November 28, 1962
The “skylift” tram opens at Stone Mountain.
The Atlanta Chamber of Commerce is (unintentionally) integrated when a membership form letter is mailed to builder Herman Russell.
June 6, 1963
The 4 billionth gallon of Coca-Cola’s secret formula syrup is produced.
Through the series of Sabin Oral Sundays, 800,000 of metro Atlanta’s 1.2 million residents are administered the polio vaccine.
April 15, 1964
Ground is broken for Atlanta Stadium.
December 14, 1964
In Heart of Atlanta v. U.S., the Supreme Court upholds the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
August 18, 1965
The Beatles play in the new Atlanta Stadium, their only Atlanta appearance.
Here, the Fab Four confer with mayor Ivan Allen. Image courtesy Atlanta History Center.
>> Watch a video clip of the performance
October 26, 1965
The old Ponce de Leon ballpark property is sold at auction while crowds in the stands sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.”
April 12, 1966
The Atlanta Braves play their first regular season opener. They lose 3–2 to the Pittsburgh Pirates in extra innings.
January 9, 1967
Following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, SNCC cofounder Julian Bond is sworn in as a member of the Georgia House of Representatives—a year and a half after he was first elected. Bond’s seating in the House was repeatedly blocked by Georgia lawmakers because of his opposition to the Vietnam War.
Central Atlanta Progress, the Downtown booster organization, is created through the merger of the Central Atlanta Improvement Association and the Uptown Association.
June 16, 1967
Six Flags Over Georgia opens.
July 2, 1967
The Hyatt hotel opens, described by a New York Times reporter as “a modern-day version of the gallerias in Naples or Milan.”
April 9, 1968
More than 150,000 mourners gather in Atlanta to honor Martin Luther King Jr., assassinated in Memphis five days earlier. They follow his casket on a mule-drawn wagon through Downtown, while deadly riots, arson, and looting rage in 110 other U.S. cities.
>> Read our April 2008 feature on the King funeral
Phipps Plaza opens.
July 4–5, 1969
The Atlanta International Pop Festival is held at the Atlanta International Raceway.
I-285 opens. The road, built for $90 million, consists of only four lanes (two in each direction).