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HISTORY (continued 3 of 7)

The centerpiece of Curtiss, though, was its state-of-the-art hangar. Constructed as three separate hangars connected by a common roof, the structure was surrounded on three sides by a concrete ramp. One source indicated that at the size of five ordinary hangars in 1930 it was the largest airplane hangar in the world. An ingenious system of sliding doors created dividers for storage and zone heating.

An upper-level promenade extended the entire length of the building on the field side so that passengers and visitors could enjoy an unrestricted view of planes landing and taking off. Inside were comfortable galleries featuring glassed-in areas that allowed passengers the unprecedented opportunity to watch mechanics at work on the lower floor. The restaurant and lounge on the hangar's uppoer level provided refreshments for airline travelers, while a loudspeaker system within the hangar announced flight arrivals and departures. No expense was spared to create the largest and most passenger-friendly airport in the Midwest. The final cost of the field and hangar was $3 million.

Dedication of Curtiss-Reynolds took place on October 20, 1929. Thirty-five thousand people attended the day-long event, and more than one hundred air-ships of all varieties passed in review. The general committee and patrons listed on the dedication prgram read like a page from the social register - Armour, DuPont, McCormick, Vanderbilt, Walgreen, and Wrigley. Few could anticipate that when the bottom fell out of the stock market nine days later, hopes for the facility - envisioned to become the crown jewel in the Curtiss system - would never be fulfilled.

Despite the economic downturn, Major Schroeder was instrumental in bringing the National Air Races of 1930 to Glenview. The week-long program, which included displays of every imaginable type of aircraft, was held in early September. A grandstand constructed in front of Hangar One could seat sixty-five thousand people, and the fields surrounding the runways could hold another thirty-five thousand. Some old-timers recall bumper-to-bumper traffic as far as the eye could see and air thick with dust. Famous fliers and air racers descended upon the country town to compete for some $150,000 in prize money. Although huge crowds attended, the event was not a financial success, due in part to the Air Race corporation's loss of parking revenues. The surrounding farmers and landowners had driven a hard bargain for parking rental fees, effectively siphoning off a great deal of the show's profits.

 

 

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