Early Days at O’Hare

Orchard Place

The cover of Flying magazine, November 1943.

Of course it wasn’t what I set out to do.

I’d actually thought it would be interesting to go through some old American aviation magazines and compare the advertising from late 1938 to late 1943 and then mid-1945…

I wanted to see how things changed as the Depression economy recovered but before war in Europe had begun; then in the depths of WW2 with only modest assurance of an Allied victory; and then right at the end when commercial and political focus had shifted to ‘winning the peace’.

And maybe I still will.

But first, it seems, the Douglas Skymaster hasn’t quite finished with me.

Skymaster factory

Final assembly at Orchard Place. Note the massive wooden trusses of the factory roof (and the people, for scale).

You may recall from Part 4 of The Story of EW999 a brief mention of the massive new C-54 production line Douglas built at Orchard Place, outside Chicago.

Despite being where all the RAF Skymasters were built, the factory’s story was somewhat apocryphal to that piece.

KORD seen from the International Space Station, June 2019. The original Douglas factory was under the upper left (northeast) section. (Wikipedia)

The fact that it was ENORMOUS and built entirely from wood to save strategic steel supplies were just kind of interesting, but not really relevant to that post. However, the account I stumbled across in November 1943’s Flying is much more complete – and simply too good to pass over.

So, craving the original publisher’s indulgence, here it is. Whether you’re interested in the C-54 itself, America’s prodigous WW2 productivity, or the origins of Chicago’s massive O’Hare terminus, it’s an amazing story.

2 thoughts on “Early Days at O’Hare

  1. I can still recall when several of us were hired at North Central Airlines in May of 1960 and we were all sent to fly out of Chicago-Midway airport (MDW) and Detroit’s Willow Run (YIP). One of our trips on the DC-3s involved several flights a day coming down from Milwaukee (MKE) and going into Orchard Field-O’Hare (ORD). Was still a rather small portion of our daily activities in those days but ORD rapidly grew to replace MDW.

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