The City of Philadelphia’s Division of Aviation observes two anniversaries during the last days of June: Philadelphia International Airport’s (PHL) 80th on June 20 and Northeast Philadelphia Airport’s (PNE) 75th on June 26.
Philadelphia’s official ties to flight date back 95 years to 1925, when the City provided 125 acres of land in the Eastwick neighborhood (now part of PHL’s northeast corner) for Pennsylvania National Guard training aviators. The location became Municipal Aviation Landing Field in 1926, following an agreement with commercial flying service Ludington Exhibition Company. The U.S. Post Office also used the facility for airmail flights between Washington, D.C., and New York City. The property was dedicated by Charles Lindbergh in 1927, after he landed his Spirit of St. Louis there.
Plans for the location currently home to PHL began to take shape in 1930, when the City purchased the Hog Island Shipyard from the Federal Government for $3 million for airport expansion. Delayed by the Great Depression, the project was idled until 1937 and finally opened as Philadelphia Municipal Airport opened June 20, 1940. The airport was closed for commercial air service from December 1943- 1945 due to World War II. The airport officially became Philadelphia International Airport in late 1945, following the launch of transatlantic service from Philadelphia.
PNE’s beginning also has military connections: the Federal Government gave the City an incomplete Air Corps Operations base in 1944. The City finished construction and opened Philadelphia Northeast Airport on June 26, 1945.
A City ordinance changed Philadelphia Northeast Airport to North Philadelphia Airport in 1948. It operated under that name until 1980, when the City ordinance was amended and the name was changed to Northeast Philadelphia Airport.
Airport History.org is commemorating PHL's 80th anniversary with a multi-part photo feature, Philadelphia International Airport at 80 .