“The World’s Greatest Air Harbor”: Old Port Columbus Airport

Old Port Columbus Air Terminal & Control Tower Recently the Columbus Landmarks Foundation released their list of the most endangered historic properties in the central Ohio area for 2014. One of my goals is to visit as many of these places as is possible and photograph them as they stand today, so long as they are able to be visited and viewed.

At the very top of this year’s list is the Old Port Columbus Airport terminal on the east side. Opened in 1929, it’s a rather attractive Art Deco building, one hailed as “The World’s Greatest Air Harbor” by the city officials who had spent nearly a decade lobbying for it. None other than Charles Lindbergh himself selected the site for the airport, which also—this is fascinating to me—served as a train terminal for the Transcontinental Air Transport New York to Los Angeles air-rail system.

Old Port Columbus

The “street-side” of the building—this is one of the first things seen by rail passengers entering Port Columbus.

It sounds as if travelling such a distance was a bit convoluted back in ’29: For a $351.94 ticket, you’d go from New York to Columbus via the Pennsylvania Railroad, from Columbus to Waynoka, Oklahoma via air, then back onto a train to head to Clovis, New Mexico, and a final leg in the air from Clovis to LA. I’d probably handcuff my luggage to myself lest it be lost! All of that train- and plane-hopping over the course of the required 48 hours sounds exhausting, but of course it was a much different time—travel was a luxurious pleasure and event back then.

(I’ll pause so we can all lean back and fantasize about romantic railcar trips and airplane stewardesses serving cocktails. Ahhhh…) Continue reading