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About the Photos

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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Tower of Landin'

Tower of Landin'

Circa 1962. "Dulles International Airport, Chantilly, Virginia, 1958-63. Eero Saarinen, architect. Control tower interior." Note the "mobile lounge" near the jet. Medium format negative by Balthazar Korab. View full size.

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Airport access

As teenagers, a friend and I used to bicycle from our homes in Flushing, NY the 8 or 10 miles to Idlewild Airport - at the time this photo was taken. We'd enter the airport on 150th Ave. In a few hundred yards, there was a traffic light, where the road crossed a taxiway. We'd watch a couple of planes taxi past maybe 50 yards away, then ride on to the terminal.

Remote Communications

The console at the extreme left bears an Electromatic by Comptometer. It seems to me to be an apparatus to transmit handwriting to a nearby remote location. In the late 1960s, I saw a similar appliance in use in a control tower. That device was a Telautograph. Does the Shorpy braintrust have additional information?

Where are all the planes?

I was a kid when Dulles opened. We went there to meet visitors on incoming flights a few times in the early days. I remember the terminal as virtually empty of people and the runways with scarcely a plane. For years I heard regular media complaints that this airport "out in the sticks" was a total boondoggle. Who would travel to the middle of nowhere when National Airport (now Reagan National) was so convenient (just remind the pilots not to clip the USA Today building or the 14th Street Bridge on the way in or out)?

Look at Dulles today - a regular rabbit warren. I kind of miss the early days.

No security needed

In the late 60's one could just drive to the parking lot in the upper right of the photo. The only security was knowing where the entrance was.

In the 1960's Virginia Route 28 (along left side horizon) was a two lane road. Located next to the present day clover leaf for Air and Space was a small unattended airport entrance labeled "Gate 4". Gate 4 brought one on a sweeping drive around the end of Runway 1-Right to the aircraft service area where there was an open parking lot and open access to the ramp area.

A coworker worked at this location loading 16mm film onto aircraft for the first "Inflight Motion Pictures"

Times have changed

Back in the early '70's I was in DC accompanying my boss to a conference. We flew in and out of Dulles. We had flown commercial, but she had a private pilot license. On a whim as we were waiting for our return flight home, she asked if she could see the control tower. They checked out that she really was a pilot, and glanced at my drivers license, and then we were escorted up! We couldn't talk to the controllers, of course. Our escort answered my boss' questions. It was fascinating.

Mod Cons

Dang, built-in ashtrays at every station, and an electromagnetic comptometer. All the mod cons!

You would be surprised

Most of the equipment in this photo is still in use today.

I see this tower almost every day

Sure doesn't look like that these days!!

De rigueur

No high-tech instrumentation console is complete without built-in ash trays! At least five in this view.

I pity the cleaning crew that has to keep all the nicotine stains off that huge expanse of glass!


Looks like the man on the right didn't pick the wrong week to quit smoking.

SHORPY OLD 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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