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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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National Airport: 1941

National Airport: 1941

Arlington County, Va., circa 1941. "National Airport. Interior of waiting room showing ticket counter." Safety negative by Theodor Horydczak. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5


Below is the same view from April of 2016.

To Locals, it's Washington National (forever)

It will never be anything but National Airport to everyone I know. We all grew up in DC and that is the name we all know. I watched planes take off from right there in that photo. My then boyfriend worked for the parking lot there and we used to count cars all night, and watch planes for hours. It was so quiet back then. about 1963? It is so huge now, and very busy, with tons of additional buildings and overpasses and underpasses and so much easier to get lost there too. The inside is still beautiful, and the view out the huge window is still outstanding, however it is busy now, so it is different.
Great Memories!

I guess it should be obvious

But are the openings in the ceiling recessed lighting or for ventilation or just decorative?

It is the national airport

I'm an airline pilot and I never have called it Reagan. It's National Airport, period. The terminal in the photo is still there, by the way. I believe it's largely unused now though.

Love the Look

A great example of an "institutional modern" look that seemed to peak in the late 50s. This is similar to Dorval Airport in Montreal in the 50s, as I remember it as a kid.

No relation

Pennsylvania Central Airlines was not related to the well known Penn Central Railroad. Formed in 1936 through the merger of two smaller carriers, it was originally based in Pittsburgh but moved its headquarters to Washington National Airport in 1941. What with more of its flights being out of Washington than Pennsylvania, the old name didn't fit and the airline changed its name to Capital Airlines in 1948. United Airlines acquired it in 1961.

Washington National in the '60s

I flew in and out of there a few times when I was in the service in the mid- to late-'60s and that's how I remember it looking back then.

Lovely Terminal

I remember flying out of there in 1968 when I was 10, my first time on a plane and first time in an airport. The big bestseller on all the news stands, everywhere there, was "Airport." And I thought, "Yes, airport." All the sophisticated grownups were in the cocktail lounge, which by then was located somewhere on that balcony.

Old School

And to some of us, it will always be National.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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