Atlanta slams brakes on naming street after Ferdinand Porsche, famed auto engineer and former Nazi

Car company founder's name slapped on application to rechristen street near future HQ


Porsche will soon begin construction next door to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on its $100 million, state-of-the-art North American headquarters. Millions of travelers who fly into the world's busiest airport each year will catch a glimpse of the 26-acre complex, which will incude a green roof, a racetrack for enthusiasts to test their Cayennes, and a restaurant.

There's just one problem: the street where the auto company plans to build the complex is named Henry Ford II Avenue, a relic from the days when a massive Ford Factory stood on the property.

Understandably, Porsche would prefer not to do business on a road named for a former executive of another car company. Coca-Cola would prefer not to welcome corporate guests to RC Cola Court. And Creative Loafing would probably not want its offices on AJC Street.

So the German car manufacturer asked the city to rechristen the thoroughfare. And legislation was introduced (PDF) to change the street's name, which will be noted with interstate signage, to Ferdinand Porsche Avenue. No other names were considered, Porsche says. The proposal was scheduled for what we're sure would've been a very heated public hearing on Oct. 9, but which now might have fewer fireworks.

Why? Well, there's no delicate way to put this, but Porsche, like many German business leaders during World War II, was involved with the Nazis — a fact that the auto company, to its credit, fully acknowledges. And because of a strict city code or an unfamiliarity with German industrialists, the city that helped birth the civil rights movement was put in the position of almost accidentally honoring one of Adolf Hitler's former allies with a street — one next to the world's busiest airport. Yeah, whoops.