1927: The Launch of an Airport that Grew to Become an Aviation Giant

May 7, 1927

A newly completed airport in the San Francisco area was inaugurated. This facility, which was officially named Mills Field Municipal Airport, had been built on 150 acres (60.7 hectares) of a cow pasture. The property was leased to the city of San Francisco by Ogden L. Mills, a member of a prominent local family. (He had just completed three terms as a U.S. congressman from New York and would serve as secretary of the treasury under President Herbert Hoover.) 

The airport was originally intended to function on a temporary and experimental basis. At the time of its dedication, that facility consisted of a 5,000-foot (1,524-meter)-long airstrip and an unfinished terminal measuring 88 feet by 34 feet (26.8 meters by 10.4 meters). The airport’s first tenant was the newly formed Boeing Air Transport. 

San Francisco Mayor James Rolph, Jr., gave the dedicatory address. Other mayors in the region likewise took part in the ceremony as speakers. As another feature of that day’s festivities, an anti-aircraft battery from the military base Presidio of San Francisco fired off a 21-gun salute in honor of the new airport. 

The name of the airport was formally changed to San Francisco Municipal Airport in 1931. In 1955, the “Municipal” in that name was replaced with “International.” San Francisco International Airport (SFO) has since become one of the world’s busiest airports in terms of both passenger traffic and aircraft movements.   

Photo Credit: Bill Larkins (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en

For more information on the history of San Francisco International Airport (originally called Mills Field Municipal Airport), please check out https://www.flysfo.com/media/press-releases/sfo-celebrates-90-years-progress

A video highlighting the airport’s past is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml5_B-KwfOw

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