Video of the History & Future of Airports, As Seen In 1958

by SharonKurheg

The first scheduled commercial airline flight took place in 1914. A little more than a decade later, there were enough commercial flights that the Air Commerce Act of 1926 was established to regularize commercial aviation by establishing standards, facilitation, and promotion.

Following the slowdown of the Depression and its aftermath, flight became more and more available to John Q. Public and by the end of the 1950s, flying had become nearly commonplace. With more people in more planes flown by more airlines, expansion was needed at many airports to keep up with the demand.

Dulles was one such airport…

From Dulles’ website:

Although Washington National Airport (now Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport) had been open only since 1941, the need for a second airport to serve the National Capital Area became apparent shortly after the end of World War II. To meet the growing demand for airport capacity, Congress passed the Washington Airport Act of 1950 (and amended it further in 1958) to provide for “. . . the construction, protection, operation, and maintenance of a public airport in or in the vicinity of the District of Columbia.”

Architect Eero Saarinen’s vision of Dulles was a marvel of its time, and made for an airport that’s as impressive today as it was 60-odd years ago. Industrial design duo Charles and Ray Eames made a video in 1958, to explain not only what Dulles would offer, but why and how it was taking lessons from its past in order to do these things. Here’s the video:

I like how they suggest space flight towards the end of the video. We’re not quite there yet, but we’re getting closer.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary



Dan June 19, 2019 - 8:55 pm

Except almost as soon as Dulles opened people realize Saarinen had really screwed up the practical design side of Dulles. The people movers were unpopular from day one and subsequently have been phased out, at great cost, for all. It international arrivals.

It’s sweeping single terminal is also beautiful but somewhat unpractical and hasn’t been copied in modern well designed airports.

SharonKurheg June 19, 2019 - 11:03 pm

Oh yes…there are so many things that were thought up and then turned out to not work as well as intended…not just as Dulles. But the video was still fun to watch in a “This is what the future is going to be…” “…no it wasn’t” sort of way 🙂


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