Lost Airports II

1959, Willow Run passenger terminal. To the right is a display of Chrysler cars.

1959, Willow Run passenger terminal. To the right is a display for Chrysler cars.

The Willow Run Airport in Van Buren Township is certainly not lost, but its passenger terminal (along with scheduled passenger service) is long gone. The airport itself opened in 1942, and the strikingly modern passenger terminal was opened after the end of World War II in a former hangar. In 1948 it became the first airline terminal to feature a movie theater, while in 1946 it saw the establishment of the first airport car rental company, Avis. The University of Michigan owned the airport from 1947 to 1977 when Wayne County took over operations. In 1957, a $1.5 million remodeling resulted in the terminal’s distinctive false ceiling. But this couldn’t prevent passenger service from gradually shifting to the newly enlarged Detroit Metro Airport in Romulus which is ten miles closer to Detroit. That spelled the end of the terminal which was demolished in 1967.

1949, City Airport original terminal and hangars. The hazardously close gas tank was removed in the 1960s.

1949, City Airport original terminal and hangars. The hazardously close gas tank was removed in the 1960s.

The Detroit City Airport was dedicated in 1927 and served as the city’s primary airport until the opening of Willow Run in 1942. The Executive Terminal and hangar were built in 1929, and today serve as the potential new home of the Tuskegee Airmen Museum. Main operations of the airport moved to a new terminal designed by Albert Kahn Associates in the 1960s. Although scheduled passenger service ceased in the 1990s, the newly-named Coleman A. Young Municipal Airport still serves as an important place for pilot training, and private and corporate aircraft.

 

Willow Run c. 1960 (photo by G.E. Hess)

Willow Run c. 1960 (photo by G.E. Hess)

City Airport, 1966

City Airport, 1966

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