Before there was National Airport, there was the Washington Airport at Hoover Field. It was established in 1926 and located just west of today’s intersection of the George Washington Parkway and the 14th Street Bridge.

Aerial View of South End of Highway Bridge, 14th Street Underpass Looking Northeast, 1932,

from Library of Congress.

The terminal, constructed in 1930, was built in the International Style and designed by architects Holden, Stott & Hutchinson. It was a frame structure with a brick veneer base and stucco walls. It was built at a cost of 50 cents per cubic foot, for a total cost of $29,187.78 for its 58,000 total cubic feet of space.

Upon completion in 1930, the terminal supported 50 sightseeing flights a day and 30 commercial fights. A few months after the terminal opened, Luddington Airlines (later absorbed by Eastern) began flights to New York “every hour on the hour.” By 1931, the airport had 70 daily scheduled arrivals and departures, making it the busiest airport in the country.

Late October, 1935, witnessed the start of direct service between Washington and Chicago when American Airlines introduced the service. The duration of the flights were approximately four hours and via Cincinnati and Indianapolis. American’s service was also the only one between the cities to have stewardesses in attendance and the only Chicago service using Douglas equipment.

The proposal for a safe and adequate government operated airport was introduced in Congress as early as 1927, but did not gain ground until 1938. This eventually resulted in construction of National Airport, which opened on July 16, 1941. With the opening of National, the old airport was no longer needed and razed. The grounds were purchased by the War Department for part of the Pentagon’s grounds.

More images below.

Washington-Hoover Airport

Washington-Hoover Airport

Washington-Hoover Airport

Sources consulted:

"Airlines Start Direct Service D.C.-to-Chicago: American’s New Schedule Brings Western City Within 4 Hours.” The Washington Post, November 3, 1935, MA7.

Goode, James M. “Washington Hoover Airport Terminal.” In Capital Losses, 460-461. Washington: Smithsonian Books, 2003.

"Washington Airport Washington, D.C.” The Architectural Forum, December 1930, 735-736.

Kent Boese posts items of historic interest, primarily within the District. He’s worked in libraries since 1994, both federal and law, and currently works on K Street. He’s been an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner serving the northern Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods since 2011 (ANC 1A), and is a candidate for the DC Council, Ward 1. He has a MS in Design from Arizona State University with strong interests in preservation, planning, and zoning. Kent is also the force behind the blog Park View, DC.