James L. Key

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James Lee Key (1867–1939) lawyer who as the 45th and 48th Mayor of Atlanta.


He was born in 1867.

By 1902, he was councilman representing the Sixth Ward and ran for mayor in 1904 and 1918 first losing to then defeating James G. Woodward. He was easily re-elected in the 1920 election. During that second term, he established Atlanta's first City Planning Commission and issued bonds to build the Spring St. viaduct (completed December 20, 1923). He didn't run in 1922 but lost in 1924.

He was elected to a third Term in the wake of the Atlanta graft ring scandal and early in that term he made public statements against Prohibition and the blue law bans of Sunday baseball games and Sunday movies. This precipitated a recall vote in 1932 that he would have lost if not for support from the black community. He was instrumental in getting Harry Hopkins and his WPA program to update the city sewer system and nearly a million dollars to remodel the Atlanta Municipal Auditorium and Cyclorama building. Key won a fourth term in 1934.

By the time he was campaigning for his fifth term, against William B. Hartsfield in 1936, the nearly 70-year-old Key was accused of spending only an hour a day at his office and lost a contentious race.

He died in 1939 after finally seeing the end of Prohibition.

Preceded by
Asa Candler
Mayor of Atlanta
Succeeded by
Walter A. Sims
Preceded by
Isaac Newton Ragsdale
Mayor of Atlanta
Succeeded by
William B. Hartsfield