Friendship International Airport, now BWI, dedicated 70 years ago this week

Friendship International Airport, circa 1950.
Friendship International Airport, circa 1950.
Friendship International Airport, circa 1950.
Friendship International Airport, circa 1950.
Friendship International Airport, circa 1950.
Friendship International Airport, circa 1950.
Friendship International Airport, circa 1950.
View across the parking lot of the Friendship International Airport, Baltimore, Maryland, November 1950. The newly opened airport had been dedicated on June 24, 1950.
Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, first row second from left, accompanied by 13 power specialists and administrators, left for Russia from Friendship International Airport, Aug. 29, 1962, Baltimore, Md. The group will tour Soviet hydroelectric installations, dams and transmission systems. Poet Robert Frost, in foreground wearing light-colored coat, also left the group on a separate exchange trip. He and Udall are close friends. The rest of the group is unidentified.
Frenzied fans are shown atop the bus carrying the world champion Baltimore Colts after their arrival at Friendship International Airport, Dec. 28, 1958 in Baltimore. A riotous crowd of 30,000 greeted the team after their 23-17 sudden death overtime victory over the New York Giants in Yankee Stadium gave Baltimore the NFL Championship.
Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and his wife, Ethel, wave a cheerful goodbye as they depart on a goodwill tour of six countries on Feb. 1, 1962 in Baltimore. The Kennedy’s left Friendship International Airport for Los Angeles, en route to Japan. They also will visit Indonesia, Iran, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands.
Madison "Buzz" Nutter, Baltimore Colt center for seven years before being traded to the Pittsburgh Steelers, wasted no time getting to a telephone after hearing the "shocking" news, July 19, 1961. Here, Nutter talks to Friendship International Airport asking: "What time is the first plane out of Baltimore for Huntington?" Nutter lives in Huntington, West Virginia in the off-season.
Interior Secretary Stewart Udall, right, and electric power experts confer with airline ticket agent Ellen Ellis, left, before boarding flight to the Soviet Union, Aug. 28, 1962, Baltimore, Md. The four travelers are, left to right, Paul Shaad of Sacramento, Calif.; Charles Luce of Portland, Ore., Under Interior Secretary James Carr, and Udall. They left Friendship International Airport at night, bound for a tour of Soviet power facilities.
Martin Luther King Jr Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., answers newsmen’s questions after arriving at Friendship International Airport for a two-day meeting of the board of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Baltimore March 31, 1965. Dr. King said his proposed economic boycott of Alabama, where he is leading the voter registration drive, would be discussed at the meeting.

BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, what has become the D.C. region’s busiest airport, was dedicated 70 years ago this week.

President Harry S. Truman officially dedicated Friendship International Airport on June 24, 1950. “I dedicate this great airport to the cause of peace in the world,” Truman said at a tarmac ceremony on that date.

An account of Truman’s dedication is recorded at the Truman Library.

At the time, the airport was considered as the most advanced commercial airport in the U.S.

In 1957, Friendship International Airport was the East Coast terminus for the record-breaking transcontinental flight by the first Boeing 707 airliner. Federal certification ceremonies for the Douglas DC-8 were celebrated at the airport in 1959.

The state of Maryland purchased Friendship International Airport from the City of Baltimore for $36 million in 1972, and a year later, it was renamed Baltimore/Washington International Airport.

In 2005, the airport was renamed Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, after former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, a Baltimore native.

BWI Marshall had almost 27 million commercial airlines passengers in 2019.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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