The Key to the City

December 20, 2013

It’s a great honor to be given the “key to the city.” What powers does the honor grant? None really. But it’s a nice honor. Here are some famous people who have been given a giant novelty key.

key to the city• In 2010, reality TV’s Kardashian family (and Bruce Jenner) was granted the key to Beverly Hills.

• The Jackson 5 were born and raised in Gary, Indiana. When they became hugely popular, all five were given the key to the city.

• What’s the hard rockingest city in the United States? West Valley City, Utah, of course! At least that’s where Axl Rose of Guns N’ Roses has a key to a city.

• In 1990, Cher performed at a Formula One car race in Adelaide, Australia, and was given the key to the city. In 2012, her management sold the actual key on eBay for $96,000.

• Newspaper advice columnist Ann Landers once received the key to the city of Albion, Michigan. (But not her sister, “Dear Abby,” also known as Abigail Van Buren.)

• Spokane, Washington, gave a key to President Harry Truman while he was campaigning there for re-election in 1948. (Truman carried Washington in the election.)

• In both 2008 and 2012, the players and coaches of the NFL’s New York Giants were given keys to the city of New York after winning the Super Bowl. (Interestingly, the Giants don’t play their home games in New York City—their stadium (and the team’s offices) are in New Jersey.

• After making a donation to a large Detroit church there, Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein was given the key to Detroit.

• On the other end of the spectrum, Detroit annually presents Santa Claus with the key to the city, at the end of its yearly Thanksgiving parade.

• In 2009, Buffalo, New York gave NFL star—and Buffalo Bill—Terrell Owens the key to its city. But on a few conditions: He had to catch 10 touchdown passes and get the team to the playoffs. He caught five, the Bills missed the playoffs, and Owens was traded. (No word on if he got to keep the key or not.)