By Ann Taylor Boutwell

Nov. 1-7, 1924: For one week an illuminated billboard in Manhattan’s Times Square beckoned millions of passers-by to visit Atlanta. The sign graced the Broadway entrance to the old 16-story Claridge Hotel at 44th Street (destroyed in 1972). The Atlanta Chamber’s City Builder magazine said architect H. Van Buren Magonigle designed the display, which depicted the image of an open history book. It read: ATLANTA, GA. 876 Miles From Here. The additional 36-word verbiage boosted the city’s delightful climate and splendid hotels. Stone Mountain’s Confederate Memorial – a work in progress by sculptor Gutzon Borglum – was then the featured attraction.

Nov. 4, 1939: A terse telegram brought long-awaited news from MGM’s Howard Dietz to Atlanta’s Mayor William Berry Hartsfield. The message said that the Gone With the Wind world premiere would be at the Lowe’s Grand Theater on Friday, Dec. 15 at 8:15 p.m. Hartsfield immediately notified Life Magazine urging them to start making plans to cover it. He sent out special invitations to the southern mayors in surrounding states and mailed additional invitations to thousands more.

Nov. 11, 1889: Gov. John Brown Gordon signed legislation limiting mill workers to 11 hours per day or 66 hours per week.

Nov.14, 1833: Francina Cameron Austell was born in LaGrange, the night the Leonid meteor showered stars on Georgia. Reared by parents Emily Castleberry and James Hawthorn Cameron, she graduated from the LaGrange Female Institute, now LaGrange College. Troup County documented her marriage to Alfred Austell, an East Tennessee native on May 31, 1853. He was 39 and she was 20.  From 1854 to 1875, she bore six children—three daughters and three sons, two of which died in infancy. After moving to Atlanta in 1858, the family settled in a home on Marietta Street where she continued to live until her death in April 1917. The site today is the State Bar of Georgia headquarters at 104 Marietta Street. Prior to the Civil War, Alfred founded the First National Bank. In 1863, she tended patients at the Wayside Hospital with the Atlanta Ladies Hospital Association. After the war she continued her service work with First Presbyterian, Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association, Atlanta Pioneer Women, and the Daughters of the Confederacy. When Alfred died in 1881, she and the children commissioned the Austell Mausoleum. On April 18, 1917, Francina at age 82 was laid to rest on the high knoll in Oakland Cemetery where currently five generations of Austells, Thorntons, and Kennedys are interred.

Nov. 21, 1967: Mayor Ivan Allen designated the Downtown intersection in front of the Lowe’s Grand Theater and across from the Atlanta Carnegie Library as Margaret Mitchell Square. Standing on a ladder, Allen hoisted the new signage marking the location where Pryor Street, Forsyth Street and Carnegie Way merge into Peachtree Street. Nineteen years later on Oct. 29, 1986, Kit-Yin-Snyder’s first permanent piece of public art, invoking the Tara plantation from Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind, was dedicated in the prominent triangular plaza.

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Collin KelleyEditor

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.