By Ann Boutwell
Feb. 5, 1982: An estimated 95 million viewers watched Atlanta-based Coca-Cola unveil its new slogan, “Coke is it.” All three networks carried the commercial at 9:15 p.m. spot. “Coke is it” replaced the company’s longtime slogan, “Have a Coke and a Smile.”
Feb. 7, 1907: The city launched the Atlanta Auditorium-Armory Co. development project on Courtland Avenue. The goal was to build the city’s first major convention facility. Atlanta’s financial wizard William Lawson Peel put the deal together along with the purchase of five parcels of land. The Flagler Company began construction in 1907 on the building designed by Morgan and Dillon architectural firm. The late Mayor William Berry Hartsfield once said the old Atlanta Municipal Auditorium-Armory “is ideal for nothing, but it can accommodate anything,” and it did for more than 70 years. In June 1980, the Atlanta City Council sold the auditorium to the Georgia Board of Regents for $1.3 million and it became part of Georgia State University.
Feb. 19, 1999: In Washington, President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry Ossian Flipper 59 years after his death. The Presidential pardon was for a crime – embezzlement of funds – that most who studied the case said Flipper did not commit. The Thomasville native born in 1856 died in Atlanta in 1954. He was the first black graduate of West Point and the Army’s first black commissioned officer before his dishonorable discharge. The President noted that the Army had formally exonerated Lieutenant Flipper in 1976, changing his discharge to honorable and reburying him with full honors in Thomasville.
Feb. 20, 1879: Buckhead pioneer Henry Irby (1807-1879) died at the age of 72. His grave in the Sardis Methodist Church Cemetery on Powers Ferry Road is beside his wife Sardis Walraven. In 1838, Irby bought Land Lot 99 located at the intersection of West Paces Ferry, Roswell, and Peachtree roads, which is now Buckhead Village.
Feb. 23, 1973: Mayor Sam Massell changed Atlanta’s metro “population now” in front of the Darlington Apartments at 2025 Peachtree Road. After the ceremony Massell visited the mothers in the maternity section of Piedmont Hospital across the street. He presented the women with a bottle of champagne and a note with Atlanta’s official seal thanking them for the city’s recent population change to just over one million.
Feb. 25, 1910: Amidst sparking protest, Mayor Robert Maddox signed the law requiring women to remove their hats in movie theaters after 6 p.m. The off with your hats law came about after two annoyed councilmen said their views were blocked in a picture show by women’s hats. Council then amended a city ordinance, which required women to remove their hats in Atlanta’s legitimate theaters to include also the popular picture shows. One upset woman said, “It is just such selfish laws that mould home-loving women into suffragettes.”