This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Finding the original Sky Harbor Airport Terminal, Phoenix, Arizona



If you've flown in to Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, you know that there are Terminals 2, 3, and 4. And that gives you a pretty good clue that something is missing. It is - Terminal 1 is just a parking lot nowadays, and not a terribly big parking lot, which gives you a good idea how small Phoenix was in 1952, when that Terminal was built. But I remember using it in the 1980s, so Phoenix old-timers, and historians, know about it. But it's not the original Sky Harbor Terminal.

When one of my fellow history adventurers wanted to go find the location of the original Sky Harbor Terminal a few days ago, I scoffed. I had seen old photos of Sky Harbor in the early 1930s, when it was just a landing field, with a few scattered buildings. But by the late 1930s it was a real airport, with real terminal buildings.

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Take a look at the photo at the top of this post. Yes, there's a terminal building, and there were a lot of other buildings, including a little chapel. It was all on the northern edge of Sky Harbor, just south of the railroad tracks, between 24th Street and 32nd Street. The little street is called Air Lane, which is south of Washington. Really. Air Lane. Go check it out on Google maps. I'll wait.

Frank Lloyd Wright and his wife Olgivanna at the original Sky Harbor Airport Terminal in the 1950s, Phoenix, Arizona

So that's where the original Sky Harbor Terminal was. Of course, the buildings there nowadays are all fairly modern, my best guess that the oldest is from the 1960s. And the chapel is gone. But the bell is still there, on a tiny stucco display hidden away next to an empty building, surrounded by fences and barbed wire. Whether it's in the exact spot it used to be, I have no idea. If you go there, like I did a few days ago, you can expect to see a Homeland Security Vehicle drive by. I'm sure that most people would have no idea what you're seeing. You're seeing the original Sky Harbor Airport.

By the way, the chapel was used by people who wanted to fly into Arizona to get married. A three-day wait for a blood test to get a marriage license was not required in Arizona.


Flying over the original Sky Harbor Terminal in the 1940s, Phoenix, Arizona. You're looking northeast, towards the railroad tracks. Air Lane, between 24th Street and 32nd, south of Washington.