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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History


The CLEVELAND-HOPKINS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT is located 8 miles southwest of PUBLIC SQUARE at Brookpark Rd. and Riverside Dr. The airport, originally known as Cleveland Municipal, was renamed Cleveland-Hopkins Intl. Airport on 26 July 1951, to commemorate the 82nd birthday of WILLIAM R. HOPKINS†, who founded it. A municipal airport for the city was envisioned shortly after World War I, but the airfield did not became a reality until the federal government was satisfied that the city could provide an adequate facility for U.S. Air Mail planes stopping in Cleveland on their coast-to-coast flights. In 1925 City Manager William R. Hopkins obtained the city council's agreement to issue bonds to build the airport on 1,040 acres of land at the Brookpark and Riverside intersection. Clearing and grading took place at record speed so that the U.S. Air Mail could inaugurate night flights on 1 July 1925. Its first terminal building, constructed in 1927, featured the world's first airport control tower. Although the local news media criticized the airfield's distant location, passengers were willing to make the long trek, as well as the general public, who curiously viewed activity at the field. The NATIONAL AIR RACES were first held in Cleveland in 1929 as part of the ceremonies dedicating Cleveland's Municipal Airport.

Through the years, the city has expanded and modernized the facilities at Hopkins to meet increasing passenger demands. A new terminal building was built in 1956, and since then additional concourses and gates have been added--the South Concourse, opened in April 1968, and the North Concourse, opened in Aug. 1978. The baggage-handling and parking facilities also were enlarged and moving sidewalks and escalators were installed. On 15 Nov. 1968, direct rapid transit service to the airport began. The problems of jet noise and the need for more and longer runways have brought the city into conflict with the airport's neighbors as it expanded into population centers adjacent to it. In the wake of airline deregulation in the 1970s, airlines established selected hubs from which to conduct their operations. As a result, United Airlines, once dominant at Hopkins, reduced its 110 daily flights from Cleveland in 1979 to just 13 in 1988. Hopkins enjoyed an increase in passenger traffic in the 1980s and early 1990s, attributed to an improved local economy and the ability of the airport to meet carrier needs quickly. In the interim, both Continental and USAir have increased their airport operations, with Continental using the airport as one of its national hubs. In 1995, based on hopes that Cleveland Hopkins Intl. Airport might become an international hub for the nation's major airlines, expansion plans were well underway for lengthening the airport's runways to accommodate the potential increase in air traffic.

Last Modified: 14 Jul 1997 03:34:06 PM

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