Boston Logan International Airport, Gateway to New England

A Timeline

Local business community finances booster campaign urging businesses to send mail by air via a U.S. airmail fleet.

Funds made available by the Massachusetts Legislature and matched by the Boston Chamber of Commerce to develop an aircraft landing site on Jeffries Point in East Boston, Massachusetts.

June 13 – Boston's first aircraft touches down on a 1,500 foot cinder runway (piloted by Lt. Kitchell Snow) on the tiny airfield known as Boston Airport built by the U.S. Army on 189 acres of tidal flats.

September 8 – Boston Airport is officially dedicated. Original airfield is used primarily by the Massachusetts Air Guard and the Army Air Corp (20 years after the Wright Brothers historic first flight).

The Boston Aircraft Corporation completes the first commercial hangar.
Boston Airport’s first general manager, U.S. Army Air Service officer First Lieutenant Donald Duke of the Army Air Corps and is credited with coining the term “airport.”

April 14 – Colonial Air (a predecessor of American Airlines) initiates the first regularly scheduled commercial passenger flights between Boston and New York, less than one year after launching airmail service between the two cities.

Ownership of Boston Airport is transferred from the U.S. Army to the Massachusetts Legislature.

The City of Boston steps in and takes control of the airport with a 20-year lease from the state. Boston’s City Council places the airport under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department, which immediately began a series of improvements. An administration building was added, runways were lengthened, and access roads were paved and landscaped. Two hundred acres of land was reclaimed from Boston Harbor.

Despite the Great Depression, air travel continues to grow due to long distance intercontinental flights by pioneer aviators. Almost every flying celebrity from Charles Lindberg to Amelia Earhart came through Boston at one time.
American Airlines begins daily scheduled service between Boston and New York.

Massachusetts State Legislature creates the Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission (MAC) to foster air commerce, encourage the establishment of airports and recommend related legislation.

The state resumes direct control of Boston Airport (one week before the United States enters World War II) and assigns operation and development to the Massachusetts Department of Public Works. Airside land area is expanded from the further filling of Boston Harbor. Additional runways, apron areas and three new hangars are built to provide operational support.

Massachusetts State Legislature takes up proposal for $4.2 million bond issue for the funding of a new road to accommodate the airport’s growth as well as an amendment to rename the airport.

June 12 – The bond issue and new name are signed into law. Boston Airport becomes General Edward Lawrence Logan Airport.

Two airlines operate at the airport: Northeast flies to Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Canada while American Airlines flies to New York.

Horseshoe-shaped Boutwell Terminal Building (Terminals B and C are now on the original footprint) is completed to help accommodate the 471,000 passengers using Boston Airport.

Loop access roadway system is completed to support the new terminal.
First non-stop transcontinental service begins between Boston and Los Angeles.

Eight-story control tower is built at the center of the Boutwell Terminal (now known as the “Old Tower”).

Airport now has four runways and an expanded terminal with 45 gates.
Jet operations begin with Pan American Airways daily 707 service to Europe. Two months later, American Airlines begins daily flights from Boston to Los Angeles.

Massachusetts State Legislature creates the Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) which becomes operational on February 17, 1959.

Massport is charged with the operation of the airport, as well as the Mystic River Bridge (Tobin Bridge), Hanscom Field in Bedford and the public marine terminals in the Port of Boston.

Developed as a “quasi-state agency,” Massport is formed to be entirely self-sustaining, without cost to the Massachusetts taxpayer and without pledging state credit; supporting itself from three primary sources: the sale of revenue bonds, charges to users of its facilities and income from investments.

Massport begins a $23 million construction program at Logan including a $5.9 million International Terminal on the current Terminal C site which consisted of four 450 foot finger piers extending from the terminal building.

Significant development project is complete including an additional landfill added to extend runway 15R/33L in order to accommodate the movement toward larger aircraft.

International travel has increased by one hundred percent from 1951. Logan is the eighth busiest airport in the United States and its expansion continues with construction on the Central Garage, the Terminal Roadway and the New Taxiway. This expansion was necessary for the further

Three major infrastructure projects are completed between 1973 and 1976 at a cost of $105 million:

  • Logan gets a new 22-story, 285 foot control tower (at the time it is the largest in the world) at a cost of $7.2 million. Logan’s tower is distinguishable by its twin cylindrical supporting pylons.
  • The Volpe International Terminal (Terminal E) opens in 1974.
  • South Terminal is constructed.

From 1975 through 1984 the implementation of the airport’s Master Plan is a central focus at Massport. Noise abatement is a significant part of the Master Plan – and provides the framework for the development of noise abatement efforts which are remain central to Massport operations today.

There are now 15.1 million passengers flying in and out of Logan each year. Further improvements are made to the airport including the construction of the Massachusetts Technology Center (currently known as Logan Office Center), Southside cargo facilities, a new Hyatt Hotel and the Amelia Earhart General Aviation Terminal on the Bird Island Flats area, dedicated in 1984 to the famous aviatrix and Boston resident.

Final phase of the Neptune Road Relocation Program is initiated to relocate the balance of families to several alternative sites in East Boston.

Roadway improvements are made as well as renovations to Terminal C (former North Terminal).

Soundproofing work is completed in East Boston schools and thousands of East Boston homes.

Logan Airport opens Kidport, the nation's first airport play area, which was designed by the Boston Children's Museum.

The number of annual passengers at Logan Airport increases to approximately 25 million annually.

In response to this growth, the Logan Modernization Project is initiated. This comprehensive and creative $4.4 billion program combines key landside improvements – focusing on terminals and roadways – with innovative airside enhancements.

The ultimate goal of the project is to increase Logan's efficiency without expanding the airport's borders or compromising on environmental benefits for its neighbors. Logan Modernization includes the Logan Landside program, which involves structural changes to the airport and the Logan Airside program, which involves various alternatives for reducing current and projected levels of aircraft delay and enhancing operational safety at Logan.

September 11 – Terrorists commandeer American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 which departed from Boston Logan and fly them into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, part of the worst terrorist attack in United States history. A memorial is later constructed to honor the memory of those lost.

November 19 – United States Congress signs the Aviation and Transportation Security Act into law creating the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to oversee security at all U.S. airports.

Massport spends $146 million to integrate Logan’s new baggage screening system within the existing system to avoid impacts on passengers and terminal space. Logan Airport became the first major airport to have a 100% inline baggage screening plan approved by the TSA.

A new Logan emerges as the Logan Modernization Project is completed. Nearly every terminal and roadway at Logan has been modified and enhancements include:
• An award-winning International Gateway Arrivals Hall
• New Airport MBTA Station
• Connections to the Central Parking Garage from all terminals via enclosed walkways with moving sidewalks
• State-of-the-art and environmentally friendly Terminal A (LEED certified by the U.S. Green Building Council).
• New two-tiered roadway system that clearly separates arrivals (lower level) from departures (upper level) to simplify the airport driving experience.

Today, Boston Logan International Airport continues to develop and change as it strives to provide the latest in first class security, technology and customer service to all its passengers. Currently New England’s largest transportation center, Logan ranks 20th in the nation in passenger volume and 19th in flight movements, employs approximately 12,000 workers and stimulates the New England regional economy by approximately $7 billion per year.