Heritage Brought by Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport

The land that is now home to thebusiest airport in the world – Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta Airport used to be an Atlanta Speedway and an abandoned racetrack. Asa Grigg Candler, the Coca-Cola founder and also a mayor of Atlanta one time, built a racetrack in 1909 on the site that was primarily farmland. The reason behind choosing this particular location was that it was a relativelyflat area in the region. Candler assembled the Atlanta Automobile Association that managed to bring together 287-acre tract from 14 different properties. The package cost Candler $77,674 (about $2,2 million today). The construction of Atlanta Motor Speedway, also known as Candler Raceway, Automobile Speedway, and Atlanta Raceway, cost $400,000. The Speedway opened in November1909.

The racetrack did not have the success Candler expected it to have, so the race track closed only after one season. To maximize the use of land, Candler started hosting air shows and air races in 1910, mixing them with the carand motorcycle races. Aviator Charles K. Hamilton used his new Flint Flyer to give exhibitions at the speedway. The Flint Flyer was the first aircraft in the history to land at the busiest airport in the world – at Candler Speedway back then. The aircraft design belonged to Walter L. Marr and was manufactured in Flint, Michigan by the L.A.W. Airplane company.

After 13 years, the race track got abandoned. Mayer Walter Sims wanted the city to develop into an airfield and asked the newly elected alderman William Hartsfield about a good location for it. The flat area of race track seemed like a perfect location to build an airfield, sothe Mayor signed a five-year rent-free agreement on the abandoned race track, to lease the land. As a part of the deal, the race track got a new name – Candler Field, after Asa Candler.

The first flight to land at Candler Field was a mail plane from Florida Airways flying from Jacksonville, Florida in 1926 and the first flight to depart from the field was witnessed by 15,000 people also in 1926 when Florida Airways Flight leftto Jacksonville and Miami. Pitcairn Aviation and Delta Air Service followed Florida Airways and started their services in 1928 and 1930. Both of the airlines later chose Atlanta as their mainhubs.

It was after four years that the cityof Atlanta purchased the land from the Candler family and the airport became known as Atlanta Municipal Airport. Delta moved the headquarters in 1940 to Atlanta. The government declared Atlanta as an air base during WorldWar IIthat resulted in expanding the size of the airport. Atlanta airport was the busiest airport in the United Statesin 1957, and also the busiestin the world between noon and 2:00 PM each day. The “Jet age” -  a period in the history of aviation known for advances of aircraft powered by turbine engines, brought the further expansion of the airport and the largest terminal in the United States opened in 1961 at the Atlanta Municipal Airport. The terminal could serve 6 million passengers a year.

Former Mayor William Hartsfield died in 1971 in February, and the airport was named after him.Because Eastern Airlines introduced international flights in1971, The name changed to William B. Hartsfield International Airport. The world’s largest air passenger terminal complex opened in 1980, followed by completion of a fourthparallel runway and the opening of airport station that linked the airport to the city’s rapid transit system. The name changed again in 2003 to the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport by the decision of the city government to honor the mayor Maynard H. Jackson that passed away that same year.

The ’90sand 2000swere years of further expansion of the airport. International Concourse “E” opened in 1994. Construction of the fifth runway began in 2001 and was completedin 2006 along with a new control tower that could see the entire length of the trackand with its height of 398 feet (121 m) is the tallest control tower in the US.