THE EVOLUTION OF BWI THROUGH AERIAL IMAGES
This year, Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport is celebrating its 70th anniversary. On June 24th, 1950, President Harry S. Truman dedicated "Friendship International Airport".
In this post, we feature a series of aerial images showcasing the spectacular growth of the passenger terminal at "BWI" through the decades.
An aerial view of Friendship Airport around the time of opening in 1950. Scheduled airline service began one month after opening. At the time, the airport was viewed as the most advanced in the United States.
An aerial view taken in the late 1960s. By this time, the original terminal had been expanded in both directions and two new concourses had been added. The pier to the left of the image--Pier C--was operated by United; Pier B in the middle by Eastern, Piedmont and Allegheny Airlines; and Pier A to the right by all other airlines.
A 1985 aerial. By this time the terminal radically altered its appearance. In the late 1970s a major renovation of the terminal complex was completed. The project doubled the size of the terminal to 635,000 square feet (59,000 square meters), The number of gate positions increased from 20 to 27. By 1983, Pier D (right of image) had been expanded from seven to 19 gates to meet Piedmont's hub operation needs.
A mid-1980s closeup of the Piedmont hub. In 1989, the carrier merged into USAir.
A 1991 aerial view. A new, four-level parking garage, located in the front of the main terminal is being completed. A few years prior, the terminal had been expanded with a new commuter terminal and expansion of Pier D to handle the growth of the USAir/Piedmont hub operation.
In 1997, the Governor William Donald Schaefer International Terminal (foreground) opens. The $140 million project features light rail service on the lower level. Total passenger traffic at BWI reaches more than 14 million, a new record for the fourth consecutive year.
In 2005, the new Terminal A/B facility was officially dedicated at BWI Marshall Airport. The 510,000-square-foot facility provides 11 new gates for Southwest Airlines, which connect to 15 current gates on Concourse B, creating a compact, 26-gate concourse facility.
A magnificent evening aerial view of the BWI terminal complex taken in 2008. During this year, the airport handled over 21 million passengers.
We close with this 2016 aerial. Since then the airport has expanded even further. We are currently working on a full feature on the history of BWI, which will include the latest extensions. Make sure you sign up for our newsletter below to know when it goes online!
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,Following the recent 62nd anniversary of the modernized and expanded London Gatwick Airport, we went digging in our extensive AirportHistory archives. From this, we found a batch of very rare color images of the airport taken shortly after opening of the newly-built terminal. Have a good look and enjoy!
A (VERY) SHORT HISTORY
Initially known as the Surrey Aero Club, Gatwick had existed since 1930. Four years later, Gatwick, located 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Central London, became the reliever airport for Croydon Airport, then the main airport for London.
Two years later, in 1936, the trendsetting "Beehive" terminal was dedicated. Among others, the Beehive featured predecessors of the modern boarding bridge.
In July 1952, it was decided to modernize and expand Gatwick. The airport was to serve as a reliever airport for Heathrow--then still called London Airport--focusing on flights to the Channel Islands and Mediterranean holiday destinations.
The Stage 1 scheme involved the erection of a box-like terminal building and pier, the construction of a new railway station to serve the airport, and a 7,000-foot (2,134-meter) single runway with associated high-speed taxiways, parking areas and aprons.
On June 9th, 1958, the expanded London Gatwick Airport was dedicated by the Queen. Having cost GBP 7.8 million, Gatwick became the first airport in the world with an integrated railway station.
Now, without further ado, let's have a look at the images!
An image taken from the airfield operations control room, looking east toward the terminal building. The terminal, designed by Yorke, Rosenberg & Mardall, boasted three levels and was designed with expansion in mind. These gentlemen certainly were no Eero Saarinen (designer of Washington Dulles Airport and the TWA Flight Center in New York)! Then again, this building is still part of the current complex today. As I often say, the boxes last longest!
A 1958 interior view of the concourse level of the terminal, taken from the mezzanine level. The Stage 1 terminal measured 350 by 130 feet (107 x 40 meter) and contained two rows of check-in desks, the other row being located to the left of the image behind the shops. Airline offices were located behind the check-in desks. The advertisement in the back at the mezzanine level reads "Remington Rand", an American company that made office equipment, including typewriters.
Another view looking east toward the exit toward the train station, which was connected to the eastern end of the terminal. A small curbside was located to the north of the terminal, or toward the left in this picture. I assume "Business for Prosperity" was a typical post-war reconstruction slogan but could not find a reference to it on the web.
Unfortunately the quality of this image is not optimal but it's too interesting to exclude. This view looks east toward the pier. Check in desks are located to the left and right. The green sign at the end reads "departure gates 1 to 18". The mezzanine level contained bars and restaurants. The blue signs read "restaurant and cocktail bar" and "buffet and bar".
This image is actually not from 1958. This aerial view was taken some time after completion of the airport's expansion in 1965, which included the doubling of the terminal, the construction of two more piers and extension of the runway to 8,200 feet (2,500 meters), making it suitable for jets. Color aerials from this period are very rare, which is why I wanted to include it.
We hope you enjoyed these photos. Do you remember visiting 1950s and 1960s Gatwick? Leave a comment below!
In the future, we'll be posting a full history on Gatwick Airport as well as more themed photo specials.
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After almost 40 years of operation, the TWA Flight Center was closed in October 2001, just before TWA itself ceased to exist (the airline was absorbed into American Airlines).
Thankfully, the TWA Flight Center had been able to acquire landmark status and escape the wrecking ball, contrary to other illustrious JFK terminals such as the Pan Am Worldport and the Sundrome,
A new Terminal 5, operated by JetBlue, opened on October 22, 2008. The entry hall of the newer Gensler designed terminal wraps around the former terminal in a crescent shape. Although the old satellite buildings, called "Flight Wing One" and "Flight Wing Two", were demolished, the original tube connectors leading passengers from the terminal building, called the "head house", were retained.
After standing empty for nearly two decades, the TWA Flight Center found a new life. In May 2019, the TWA Hotel opened to the public. Although commercially the hotel has had a bumpy take-off, it has become a place of pilgrimage for aviation geeks from around the world.
However, did you know that back in 1990 a plan was developed to expand the TWA Flight Center? If built, the terminal might still have been with us today as a working terminal, instead of a hotel.
A 1990 PLAN FOR A REVAMPED TWA FLIGHT CENTER
By the 1980s, the deficiencies of the TWA Flight Center had become very apparent. The terminal had too little of everything: gates, check-in space, baggage handling facilities, curb space, etc.
In 1990, Trans World Airlines--at the time still in a relatively healthy state--commissioned Perkins and Will to work on a redevelopment project for its whole JFK complex, which by then included the former National terminal, a.k.a. the Sundrome.
NEW FLIGHT WING TWO
The most radical feature of the proposed scheme was a complete replacement of the original Flight Wing Two satellite building. It would be replaced by a "Y"-shaped 20-gate concourse, with most stands being able to accommodate wide-body aircraft.
Having been opened in 1970, Flight Wing One, was still a relatively young structure at the time, and thus was maintained with an extension being added.
A new Federal Inspection Services (FIS) facility, "meeters and greeters" hall and arrival roadway would be built in a curved shape around the iconic TWA head house.
These were all planned to be depressed below the apron level to preserve the openness and views to the airfield from the head house. Wow!
FLIGHT CENTER BECOMES CHECK-IN FACILITY
The head house itself would be used for check-in. One of the adjoining wings would have been expanded to accommodate more check-in desks for international flights.
The famous concrete connector tubes leading from the head house to the flight wings would have been replaced with glassed-in tubes equipped with escalators.
Interestingly, in the original design for the Flight Center, the tubes featured escalators and a glass roof. However, the design was simplified in an attempt to contain the cost of the project.
CONNECTION BETWEEN TERMINALS
The then-existing corridor between the Flight Center and the Sundrome would be replaced with a large connecting structure, containing baggage transfer facilities and an expanded domestic baggage claim area.
In between the terminal was a people mover station. The tracks would lead to a newly-built central terminal building, which was part of the shelved JFK 2000 Master Plan (which will be discussed in a later article).
See more from the models and renditions of the plan below.
The plan aroused great public concern and a campaign was launched to protect the Flight Center, which culminated in the Landmarks Preservation Commission granting landmark status for the exterior and some of the interiors on July 19, 1994. In addition, the protection status included Flight Wing Two in its entirety.
In the end, the redevelopment did not go ahead as TWA reduced the scale of its operations and retrenched back to the Saarinen building.
The rest, as they say, is airport history!
Even after 30 years, the proposed design for the expansion of the TWA Flight Center still looks pretty nice! It also seemed to be an effective solution as well, providing a huge expansion, while still being very respectful toward the original Flight Center head house--even putting the arrival facilities below grade just to maintain a nice ramp view from the lounge!
I was not able to locate any budget estimates but it seemed like it was a costly solution. Even in 1990, TWA was not in a state to afford a project like that. Alas, it did not come to be.
As an airport planner and fan, I actually don't like terminals being converted to alternative uses such as shopping malls, entertainment centers or hotels. The best use of an airport terminal is...as an airport terminal.
Having said this, the most important thing is the that the Flight Center is still around and I'm happy to have it anyway I can!
What are your thoughts on the scheme? Would it have been a better solution? Let us know in the comments below!
I would like to thank Audrey Barsella of Perkins & Will. Without her kind assistance this article would not have been possible.
This month 95 years ago, on April 16, 1925, Atlanta Mayor Walter A. Sims signed a five-year lease on an abandoned auto racetrack and committed the City to developing it into an airfield.
As part of the agreement, this 287 acres of land is renamed "Candler Field" after its former owner’s family, including Coca-Cola magnate Asa Candler. The infield of the old racetrack had been used as a landing site for many years prior to 1925.
Four years later, the city of Atlanta bought the land and Candler Field became known as the Atlanta Municipal Airport.
In 1998, Atlanta became the world’s busiest airport, a position it has held ever since. In 2019, this mega hub handled 110,531,300 passengers.
In the late 1960s, planners considered completely relocating Toronto Pearson Airport's passenger terminals. Find out the story below!
Toronto Pearson Airport's spectacular "Aeroquay 1" was one of the great airport design experiments of the early Jet Age.
Opened in 1964, the aeroquay's circular design sought to minimize walking distances between the car and the airplane. Passenger vehicles reached the terminal by means of an underground tunnel, thereby allowing aircraft to circulate freely on the ramp.
A late 1960s aerial view of Aeroquay 1. The core of the terminal featured a seven-level parking structure accommodating 2,400 cars. The top floor was a plane spotter's heaven, which was also one of the main problems of the design. Sightseers caused exit delays from the car park of 2.5 hours and clogged the access tunnels for the airline travelers to the aeroquay.
LIMITATIONS OF THE AEROQUAY CONCEPT
The Aeroquay had a capacity of 3.2 million passengers annually. The airport's master plan envisaged the construction of a total of four aeroquays, which could be built according to passenger demand.
However, with traffic at Pearson booming, the concept quickly revealed its limitations. The circular Aeroquay could not be expanded. In addition, the approach roads to the terminal became heavily congested with airport visitors.
Hence, in the mid-1960s, the master plan was abandoned and the planners started contemplating a better solution.
With the experience from Aeroquay fresh in mind, this time the planners emphasized full flexibility. They decided to start with a clean slate and build a new passenger terminal complex in between runway 14/32 (now 15L/33R) and the still-to-be-built parallel runway 15R/33L.
The proposed plan envisaged a number of linear terminal modules arranged along a central spine road, a popular airport planning concept back then. Additional terminal modules be easily added according to demand, while existing buildings could be enlarged.
Pearson airport layout showing the proposed passenger infield terminal complex. The central location of the terminals enabled aircraft to quickly taxi to and from the surrounding runways. The complex could easily be extended according to demand. The spine road was directly connected to the 401 Freeway.
There were no concourses or satellites. Aircraft would park directly alongside the terminals. Planners did retain one key feature of Aeroquay 1 though, with multi-level parking structures built on top of the terminals.
An artist's impression of the new passenger terminal complex looking west. The complex could be expanded according to demand. The space in between the terminals and central spine road could be used to enlarge the existing structures. Note that airplanes were parked parallel to the terminal (not nose-in), which in the 1960s was still commonplace.
"TEMPORARY" TERMINAL 2
The jump to the infield area was to be made sometime during the 1970s. A "temporary" Terminal 2 would be built to bridge the gap until the first phase of the new terminal complex could be opened.
However, the scheme was abandoned due to cost and it was decided to expand within the existing footprint.
Phase I of Terminal 2, which adopted a more conventional linear design, opened in 1972, with Air Canada transferring all flights there in June 1973. The building went on to function as the global hub facility of Air Canada for the next three decades.
A small remnant of the infield plan did remain however. In 2002, a passenger satellite terminal called the Infield Terminal (IFT), built to deal with peak demand, opened in the infield area. The rest of the infield area was used for new cargo, maintenance and de-icing facilities.
What are your thoughts about the infield plan? Would it have made sense? Let us know in the comments below!
PLANNING BLUNDER OR GREAT VISION?
Everyone who frequently flies in and out of Schiphol will be familiar with the infamous runway 18R/36L, nicknamed the "Polderbaan" or "polder runway" ("polder" refers to the typical Dutch phenomenon of dry pumped lake beds, on which Schiphol is built).
Opened in 2003, the runway is located a whopping 3 miles (4.5 km) from the terminal area and it can take 20 minutes or more to taxi from the runway to the gate!
Some people refer to it as a planning blunder, but is it? In today's post, I will argue that the runway's remote location was actually well considered.
THE 'ENVIRONMENTAL RUNWAY'?
So, why was the runway so far away from the airport? In the early 1990s, when the project was going through the public consultation phase, the runway was pitched to the public as the "environmental runway".
Supposedly, its location was optimized so that departure and arrival routes would avoid overflying built-up areas as much as possible, explaining its eccentric location.
However, the runway first appeared in planning documents in 1968, when there was a lot less urban development around the airport and when jet noise was much less of an issue.
CHANGE OF PLAN
Over the years the thinking about Schiphol's long-term evolution has changed. Current plans envisage a second terminal building north of the current terminal complex, rather than northwest. This location would optimize connections to the existing terminal as well as existing road and rail connections.
For the huge area in between runways 18R/36L and 18C/36C, planners have come up with the idea to construct yet another runway, which would provide Schiphol with four parallel north-south runways. This would still not preclude the development of satellite buildings at some point in the future.
AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
Currently, Schiphol can still accommodate growth within the current runway system and terminal area. A new terminal and Pier A will open in 2023, raising the capacity with 14 million annual passengers to a total of about 80 million annual passengers.
However, with almost 500,000 aircraft movements in 2019, growth at Schiphol has hit a political ceiling. Currently, a national discussion is ongoing on if and how to accommodate growth in the long term.
The Dutch government as well as the general public traditionally have taken a pro-growth stance. However, with addressing aircraft emissions becoming an ever more urgent priority, the outcome of the discussion is currently uncertain.
One thing is certain however; if the government does decide to allow further growth, plans are ready to accommodate it!
What are your thoughts about Schiphol's long-term development? Let us know in the comments below!
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A full house at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport including two Queens back to back in the foreground.
In October 1973, a strike by government communications technicians in Sydney shut down virtually all air traffic in south-eastern Australia forcing Qantas and several international airlines to move its flights to Melbourne.
Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-231B 9V-SIB shares taxiway S with KLM Boeing 747-206B PHBUA. This aircraft was KLM’s first Jumbo and just one month after this photo would be hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. After touring much of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the hijackers left the aircraft and passengers unharmed in Dubai.
ALL GOOD THINGS TAKE TIME
In democracies, development of big infrastructure projects can take decades. This especially applies to airports, which have a huge impact beyond their perimeter. For example, Amsterdam Schiphol's newest runway opened in 2003, 35 years after it first appeared in planning documents.
London Heathrow's third runway takes the cake however. Did you know that plans to construct new runways north of Heathrow date back all the way to 1946?
According to the airport's original development plan, initially Heathrow would boast six runways laid out in a Star-of-David pattern: two main east-west runways, which could handle the heaviest aircraft of the time, along with four shorter diagonal runways.
Passenger terminals were to be located in the middle of the field in order to optimize aircraft taxiing times to and from the runways.
In a second development phase, a further three runways in a triangular pattern would be built north of Bath Road, bringing the total to nine runways!
The expansion would have necessitated the demolition of the two nearby villages of Harlington and Sipson. The Illustrated London News article mentioned that: "This work will not be undertaken before 1950 in order to... give ample warning to the householders concerned."
The first six runways as well as the central terminal area were built as planned. The northward expansion, however, was thought to be costly and unnecessary, and plans were shelved.
FROM SIX RUNWAYS TO TWO
Due the expansion of the central terminal area, as well as the new generation of jets needing longer runways, three of Heathrow's four diagonal runways had been closed by the 1970s, leaving Heathrow with three runways.
The last remaining diagonal runway, runway 5/23, was decommissioned in 2003, leaving Heathrow with its current two runways.
Discussions about the construction of a third parallel runway resurfaced again in the 1980s. Between 1990 and 2015, three major studies were undertaken, all of which concluded that a third runway at Heathrow afforded the greatest benefits.
THE THIRD RUNWAY IS FINALLY COMING...OR NOT?
In 2018, the UK House of Commons voted in favor of the expansion, after which a public consultation started. According to the planning, the third runway would open in 2026, 80 years after it was first conceived!
However, in February 2020, plans were blocked by an appeals court on environmental grounds. At the time of writing, the project could face many more years of delays, and with climate change now becoming a political priority, there is a chance that the scheme will be cancelled altogether.
You can read many more details about Heathrow's history in the book Heathrow Airport 70 years and Counting, written by aviation journalist Kevan James. You can find more analysis on the recent court decision his website KJM Today.
What are your thoughts about London's third runway project? Let us know in the comments below!
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THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
One year ago today, we launched www.AirportHistory.org! The response to the site has been overwhelming. I’m proud to say that to date 60,000 people have visited the site since it launch! In addition, we have received numerous e-mails of support and enthusiasm from around the world.
A LONG TAKEOFF RUN
This website has been a long time coming. I have been fascinated with airports since I was four years old after taking a flight from Amsterdam to Atlanta in the summer of 1981. I remember the impressive terminal buildings, the beautifully dressed people and airport advertisements...all the colors of the runway and taxiway lights. I was mesmerized by it all.
After returning home, I started drawing airport layouts like crazy. Every few weeks I rented the movie “Airport” and watched it ten times in a row! In 1985, I bought my first book on airports: Major Airports of the World, written by Roy Allen. It's still my favorite book. I own 20 copies from different editions and languages!
A few years later I started collecting airport books, reports, brochures and photos, sending letters--and the first faxes--to airports around the world. This was the start of what would become one of the world's most prolific airport photo collections.
THE BIRTH OF AIRPORTHISTORY.ORG
Over the years, the idea surfaced to put my archive out there for people to enjoy. For a long time I felt that the interesting and colorful history of the world's airports had been hopelessly neglected, first and foremost by airports themselves, which often only had a small web page with bullet some points and a few grainy photos.
I decided to correct things myself. On July 1st, 2013, I registered the domain name www.airporthistory.org, after which I started a new round of collecting, this time being able to leverage my professional network.
With AirportHistory.org, we aim to create a central resource about the development history of the world's great airports. The emphasis is on showing captivating and rare images that show how airports have evolved through the decades.
The photo collections are accompanied by an accessible historical narrative focusing on providing interesting facts and stories about a given airport.
The focus is on infrastructure and architecture and how each airport tried to keep pace with ever-growing traffic as well as paradigm changes like the advent of the wide-body aircraft or the hub-and-spoke system.
Naturally, we have a fondness for the period 1960-1975, when exciting experiments in airport design took place. Airport planners and architects in that era couldn't fathom the future growth of air travel to what it is today, the rate of growth and changes to come.
The airports they built, although innovative for the time (e.g. DFW, JFK, CDG, FRA, etc.), quickly proved to be either too small or unsuitable for today's large-scale modern operations. Once considered visionary, some of these legendary airports are now among the most despised among the traveling public.
We have many exciting developments coming. As of now you can look forward to regular content coming out. We will continue our very popular series on airports such as New York Kennedy and Paris de Gaulle.
At the same time, we'll be starting series on airports such Boston, Chicago O'Hare, Miami, Rio de Janeiro, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, the London airports, Dubai, Singapore Paya Lebar & Changi, Tokyo Narita, Melbourne and Sydney.
We will release never-seen-before photos of great airports that are not with us anymore, such as Denver Stapleton, Oslo Fornebu, and yes, of course, Hong Kong Kai Tak! And of course, we plan more stories about never-built airports and never-built expansion projects at existing airports.
Lastly, we’re planning many new photo specials as well as special themes, such as the evolution of airport shopping and eating as well as the history of airport lounges.
We are also preparing to open a web shop, where we will offer you the opportunity to own digital copies of fantastic vintage airport brochures, reports and photos.
For the longer term, we’re planning a series of high quality coffee table books on the history of the world’s great airports featuring many additional photos not seen on this website.
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ATTENTION: VISITORS FROM AIRLINERS.NET! YOU HAVE ARRIVED ON AN OLDER BLOG POST ABOUT THE PROPOSED 1989 DFW REBUILD.
PART 1 OF AN BRAND-NEW EXPANDED ARTICLE ON THE SCHEME, CAN BE FOUND HERE.
PART 2, FEATURING MANY IMAGES AND LAYOUTS OF THE PLAN, IS NOW ONLINE! YOU CAN READ IT HERE.
In 1989, a spectacular plan was presented that saw the elimination of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport's characteristic semi-circular terminals, replacing them with gigantic linear terminals. Read all about it below!
With its semi-circular terminal buildings, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport has one of the most recognizable airport layouts in the world.
Opened in January, 1974, the airport's "drive-to-the-gate" concept was devised in a time when it was thought that "DFW" would mainly serve people originating in, and destined for the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
Each of the four terminals would serve one major airline or a group of smaller airlines. In the master plan it was envisaged that 13 circular terminals would be built.
However, in the years following deregulation in 1978, airlines shifted to the hub-and-spoke model and airports were increasingly dominated by one or two carriers.
By 1987, DFW's two principal airlines, American and Delta, carried over 80% of the airport's traffic and they transferred two-thirds of their passengers.
For one, this meant that increasingly passengers had to switch between terminals in order to catch their connecting flight. Although the terminals were connected by an automated people mover, it was quite slow and only traveled in one direction!
Hubbing also lead to aircraft congestion during peaks, as both airlines operated on the eastern side of the airport.
In 1987, planners suggested to build three small "Atlanta-style" concourses west of, and perpendicular to International Parkway, the north-south highway dissecting the airport.
By 1989, this had evolved into a scheme to build a single very long concourse, parallel to International Parkway.
This new facility would be used exclusively by American Airlines.
By 2010, all half-loop terminals would be eliminated, to be replaced with linear terminals both east and west of the International Parkway. The scheme would double the number of gates from over a 100 to 200.
Traffic forecasts showed that traffic would rise from 47.5 million passengers in 1989, to over a 100 million passengers and a whopping 1.2 million aircraft movements by 2010, a number that could be comfortably handled by the new layout.
At the time, the total project cost was calculated at USD 3.5 billion (USD 7.2 billion in 2019 dollars), only USD 300 million less than the projected cost for the gigantic new Denver Airport, which was being developed at the time in tandem.
Due to the huge cost, the scheme was abandoned. Instead, the existing facilities were improved and expanded.
As we know now, the traffic never grew to the extent that was forecast back in the late 1980s. Although DFW by all means is a mega-hub, the airport handled only 69.1 million passengers in 2018.
With a title inspired by the setting of the iconic 70s film "Airport", this blog is the ultimate destination for airport history fans.
Marnix (Max) Groot Founder of AirportHistory.org. Max is an airport development expert and historian.