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Exhibit details development of midfield terminal

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

Through an exhibit on display in Hartsfield-Jackson's atrium, passengers can take a look back at the development of the airport's midfield terminal 30 years ago.

The midfield terminal opened on Sept. 21, 1980, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, according to airport Creative Innovations Manager Doug Strachan. Strachan, who organized the exhibit on the terminal, entitled, "It's All About the Flow," said it includes images and texts which tell the story of how the midfield terminal came about. The exhibit will be on display until Sept. 30, Strachan added.

According to Hartsfield-Jackson officials, the midfield terminal, also known as the Central Passenger Terminal Complex, is comprised of the airport's transportation mall, and its six concourses.

The exhibit showcases 32 images, which are grouped into four parts, entitled, "Part 1: The 1961 Terminal;" "Part 2: Key Figures;" "Part 3: Planning and Construction;" and "Part 4: Completed Midfield Terminal."

"The exhibit affords the viewer an appreciation of the historical and present commitment to always enhancing passenger flow throughout the airport," said Strachan. "The display will be used in other areas of the airport, in a manner that has not been finalized."

According to information presented in the exhibit, the Atlanta airport terminal that opened on May 3, 1961, was the nation's largest, single, terminal building. The $20-million terminal had 110 miles of plumbing pipe, heating ducts and electrical conduit, with electrical wiring of 300 miles. Though the 1961 terminal was innovative, jet numbers increased, and more gates were needed to accommodate passengers and minimize wait times.

The 1961 terminal's gates were limited due to its layout.

Atlanta's midfield terminal was eventually built for $450 million and completed in 1980, according to the exhibit. The main terminal was configured from east to west, with north and south sides. It was united by an underground train that transports passengers to the airport's series of concourses. The train was dubbed The Plane Train earlier this year.

"Millions upon millions of customers have used the midfield terminal during its 30 years of existence," said Strachan. "Since its opening, a dedicated team of aviation professionals has continued, in the tradition of the planning and construction of the midfield terminal, to continually improve the flow of passengers and cargo through the airport. We hope the exhibit conveys to passengers the airport's commitment to continually working to elevate customer service."

While viewing the exhibit's photographs, Carlos Langston, of the Transportation Security Administration, said the exhibit is educational for individuals who are not aware of Hartsfield-Jackson's history.

"It gives the history of Atlanta [the airport] and how Atlanta [the airport] has grown over the years and the many changes that have come about," said Langston, who has been working at Hartsfield-Jackson for six years.

Hartsfield-Jackson passenger, Stephen Ballow, of Marietta, said the airport's history is information people should be aware of.

"It's good for people to learn about where this [airport] comes from," said Ballow, while viewing the exhibit.