Monday, June 3, 2019

Sky Harbor International Airport

By Kristy McCaffrey

Sky Harbor was built in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1935, and was nicknamed “The Farm” because it was so isolated from the rest of the city at that time. Until 1962, it only had one terminal.

Sky Harbor's Terminal 1, circa 1930s, before it was purchased
by the city of Phoenix.

Sky Harbor began as a Scenic Airways facility in 1928, but when the stock market crashed the following year Scenic was forced to sell it to an investment firm. In 1935, Phoenix purchased it for $100,000.

Scenic Airways first flight in 1928.

An invitation to the November 11, 1935, dedication of Phoenix
Sky Harbor Airport.

Terminal 1

Terminal 1 didn’t open until 1952, and the control tower was made of fuel storage tanks that were welded together. Terminal 2 opened in 1962, and Terminal 3 followed in 1979. A massive expansion project was completed in 1990 with the addition of Terminal 4, at which time Terminal 1 was demolished.

Terminal 1 in the 1950s.

Phoenix Sky Harbor in 1954.

In April 1957, airlines running from Sky Harbor were American, TWA, Bonanza and Frontier. In the summer of 1959, American began a nonstop DC-7 service to New York (Idlewild).

Today, Sky Harbor has three terminals, the largest of which has 86 gates. Terminal 3 is named for six-term Arizona senator John McCain, and Terminal 4 is dedicated to five-term Arizona senator Barry Goldwater. For those feeling nostalgic, Terminal 2 is scheduled to be torn down in 2020.

Terminal 4 dedication in 1990. From left to right: City Manager
Marvin Andrews, Arizona Governor Rose Mofford, former Arizona
Senator Barry Goldwater and Phoenix Mayor Paul Johnson.

The airport handles as many as 4.4 million travelers during peak months, and it consistently ranks in or near the top 10 in the country.

Images courtesy of the Phoenix Airport Museum, City of Phoenix Aviation Department. Learn more about their collections here.

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