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The State of NoVa
Posted at 05:00 AM ET, 12/07/2012

Dulles International Airport, that ‘white elephant’ way out in the boondocks, turns 50

An aerial view of Washington Dulles International Airport shortly before it opened in November 1962. Ample parking in the front. (Douglas Chevalier - The Washington Post)
It was built in an unincorporated area called Willard, a mostly black community on the Fairfax-Loudoun county line. They wanted to build it in Burke, where Burke Lake Park is now, but the community protested. It was originally going to be called Chantilly Airport. And for years after Dulles International Airport opened on Nov. 17, 1962, it was considered a waste, a boondoggle out in the country.

The gala October 1984 opening of the Dulles Toll Road. (Courtesy of Fairfax County Public Library)
Now 23 million people flow through the Dulles terminals, and the Metro is headed its way. The Post’s Lori Aratani did a good wrapup of the history of the place, which appeared on the day after Thanksgiving and may have missed many people’s attention, so here it is again.

The Post’s John Kelly followed with an interesting look at why it was named after John Foster Dulles, which is here.

The south side of the Dulles terminal building under construction in 1962. ( Federal Aviation Agency)
And Leesburg Today put together an excellent special section on the airport through the years, which starts with an overview piece by Margaret Mason here, with links to a series of articles on each decade in the airport’s life, the mobile lounges, and more. The full section can be seen here.

But also, this is just an excuse to roam through the Post photo archives and find some entertaining shots of the early days of Dulles, before you had to take a bus from the parking lot and then a train to the gate. At this point, the only missing modes of transportation are bikes and boats.

From The Post, March 1966: A $110-million white elephant is what Sen. Daniel Brewster, D-Md., calls 3-year-old Dulles International Airport, 27 miles from Washington in the Virginia countryside. Pictured: The main terminal, typically quiet in mid-afternoon. (Associated Press)

By  |  05:00 AM ET, 12/07/2012

Tags:  Dulles International Airport, Willard, Va., Burke, Va.

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