Giving a key to a city means that a person deserves honour for something he has done. Pop culture provides us with this idea. People who made a profound, helpful impact on society receives this honour. In a big ceremony, the mayor of the town literally and hands the awarded person an over-sized. At the time, then-Mayor Philip French executed a “Freedom of the City” for Viscount Edward Cornbury, who was the governor of New York and New Jersey.

What Does a Key a City Do?

The key to a city has a lot to do with how cities were constructed in the past. That is its historical purpose. In medieval times, people built fortified walls and gates to protect their territory. When heroes or dignitaries visit their town, they would present these noblemen with a key in a public ceremony.

Awarding a key to a city is often functional. It was a sign of both deference and autonomy for visiting kings. Merchants take it as a privilege to enter the city without paying a toll. It is also used to show respect for local heroes.

Tradition Lives On

Nowadays, the key has become ornamental. The ceremony becomes the more significant element in the tradition. The key doesn’t open anything. It only shows to the public that someone deserves honour for his or her contributions to the community. Although some cynics take it as a mere PR stunt, they still consider it an honour.

The tradition lives on until today. Some unlikely people have even been received a key to a city in the past. You can watch out for our next post on the five unexpected awardees of the key to a city. Your discovery will surprise you.


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