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Aviation in Miami: The First 100 Years

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  AIRPORT - The Story of Miami International Airport

 Dade County Port Authority Director A. B. Curry looks over Miami International Airport expansion plan drawings. 1950. Photo by Ralph Kestly. Miami News Collection, HistoryMiami. 1989-011-10041.  Pan Am jet near passenger terminal. circa 1959. City of Miami Collection, HistoryMiami. CM1-10136.

For 65 years, Miami aviation authorities sought to build an airport worthy of a world-class city at various locations. From 1926 to 1945, Virginia Key, the Graves Tract and the Miami Master Airport were seriously considered. However, high costs, residents' concerns about noise and crashes, and limited land for expansion ruled out these sites. By the end of World War II, the U.S. Army Air Corps had built so much aviation infrastructure south of Pan Am's 36th Street Airport (MIA's present site), that the Dade County Port Authority (DCPA) elected to continue developing this site. From 1945 to 1960, Miami International Airport added a new terminal, maintenance bases for major airlines and improvements to the air field.

jetportJetport brochure. Right: Site 14 plan. Courtesy of Jose Ramos, Miami-Dade Aviation Department Planning Division.

DCPA began making plans to build a larger, regional "jetport" in the Everglades that could accommodate supersonic aircraft in 1965. Concerns over the detrimental impact to Everglades National Park and South Florida's water supply stopped this project. In 1976, another plan emerged to build a regional airport at Site 14, a location on the Dade-Broward county line. In response to citizens' concerns, in 1990 the county commission ended all replacement airport studies and instructed the Aviation Department to maximize the MIA site. Work accomplished over the past twenty years, including new terminals, a new efficient cargo "city," a fourth runway, expanded roadway access, and the Miami inter-modal center, which centralizes ground transportation and car rental facilities, has tranformed MIA into the world-class facility that the city richly deserves.

> Evolution of Miami's Airport Terminals


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