Learn about Life in the 1920s

The first modern style Airport Terminals

Passenger Stations for Airports Terminals, similar to those operated by railroads, are being planned to provide comfort, safety, and convenience for air-travelers, who are now in many cases compelled to land in open fields. In the near future, we are told by the writer of an article in The Iron Age (New York), passenger facilities at airports will compete with those now to be found in the terminal stations of important railway lines. We read, in the magazine named above:

"Not long ago airports, with few exceptions, were little more than landing-fields. It is only two years ago that a waiting- room and ticket-office for airplane passengers, said to be the first in this country, was erected at the Ford Airport, at Dearborn, Michigan. Since then airport building has been going on at a rapid rate, and the number of airports in this country is now said to exceed 1,500, but provision for adequate passenger terminals is still in its infancy.

"The tremendous increase in the building of commercial airplanes, the large amount of new capital that has been put in this industry during the past year, and the recent tying up of rail and air transportation by some of the larger railroads by providing part rail and part airplane transportation from coast to coast are indications that the carrying of passenger traffic by airplanes is getting well beyond its experimental stages, and that the general public is learning to accept the airplane as a convenient and safe method of transportation. Air travel has shown remarkable growth in this country in the past two or three years, which doubtless is partially due to the building of larger and safer planes and the provision of comforts for passengers. The country is now overlaid with a network of air lines from coast to coast.

"While there have been developments in the construction of airports, so far they have had to do largely with requirements growing out of the operation and maintenance of aircraft or the necessities of companies operating planes. These include more convenient as well as larger hangars to accommodate the larger planes now being built, repair shops, rooms for the weather bureau and radio-operating offices, and better lighting facilities. Hangars have been improved in design and in architectural appearance. However, little attention has been given to providing for the comforts, safety, and convenience of air travelers with adequate passenger terminals. While a few principal airports have passenger depots and comfortable waiting-rooms, it is claimed that most of the existing airports are nothing more than open fields. The lack of terminal provisions for air travelers, it is pointed out, is in sharp contrast with the safety features and provision for comforts in the newer types of passenger planes.

"Competent airport engineers are now being consulted to provide more adequate passenger terminal facilities, which, it is believed, will result in a marked increase in airplane passenger business. While a few airport depots have convenient waiting-rooms, few if any have a system of traffic control similar to that at a large railroad terminal. Passengers in good weather and bad still embark and alight on the airport field, which not infrequently is muddy, and face the hazard of whirring airplane propellers.

"The air depot of the future, as conceived by some engineers. will follow closely the methods of modern railroad terminals. Passengers will go through the depot to concourses that will take them to waiting planes, which they will enter without leaving cover. Such a depot will consist of artistically designed two-story building units connected by steel bridges which will serve as concourses, the buildings themselves serving as piers for the spans of covered concourse bridges. The space beneath the spans and between the piers will form covered loading areas for the planes. When a passenger arrives at the depot, he will enter the waiting-room under a marquee at the entrance, purchase his ticket, and go to the passenger concourse on the mezzanine floor. When the plane is announced, he will descend a stairway built in one of the piers and walk across a portable railed-in passageway, similar to a ship's gang-plank; and through the open door of the plane directly to his seat. A variation from this plan is to have a passageway in the form of subways underground instead of building overhead bridges.

"In addition to having a waiting-room, the main building will have rooms for ticket and other offices, baggage-room, restaurant, and rooms for various other purposes. The small pier buildings will provide room for radio equipment, light control, dor- mitories for field pilots, and rooms for other uses. This general plan, of course, is subject to various modifications in detail.

"The airport depot of the future, if some of the present elaborate plans materialize, will result in considerable increased demand for steel in this field. A passenger terminal of the proposed type, with structural steel bridges for concourses, will require up to 1,000 tons or more of steel, depending on the size, and additional steel will be needed for ornamental stairways, passageways, and various mechanical equipment."

Source: Literary Digest - December 7, 1929