Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Curtiss-Reynolds Airport

The Chicagoan, Vol. 7, No. 13. Copyright The Quigley Publishing Company, a Division of QP Media, Inc.
If you're planning on travelling this summer by plane, you'll probably be leaving from either Midway or O"Hare; but at one point, you could have chartered a flight right from Glenview. In fact, in the late 1920s, it seemed that Glenview would become Chicago's major airline hub.

The area around the Chicago Municipal Airport (now Midway) was becoming surrounded by both new residential neighborhoods--which encroached on the airport's ability to expand--and new industry--which created smokey, unsafe air conditions for pilots. Seeing an opportunity, land was purchased in north Glenview to create the next major Chicago airfield and the Curtiss-Reynolds Airport opened in 1929. Curtiss-Reynolds boasted modern clubhouses, state-of-the-art lighting, a pilot training school, and the largest hangar in world at the time. Unfortunately--just nine days after the airport was dedicated--the stock market crashed, the Great Depression began and the demand for commercial aviation started to decline.  

The Curtiss-Reynolds Airport on opening day. October 20, 1929.
DN-0089767, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.
The Curtiss-Reynolds Airport managed to stay open during the 1930s by hosting entertainment events such as National and International Air Races and commercial companies would offer sight-seeing tours over Lake Michigan. In 1937, the Navy began leasing space in Curtiss-Reynolds' Hangar One. Soon the airport became the Glenview Naval Air Station.

You can read a fun article from a September 1929 issue of The Chicagoan here. The author visits the newly built Curtiss-Reynolds Airport and learns about the burgeoning aviation business. It's really fascinating! Imagine flying for only 35¢ a mile!

And if you're interested in more of Glenview's early aviation history, visit the Genealogy & Local History Room where we have books and articles on Curtiss-Reynolds and the Naval Air Station.

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