Tuesday, March 8, 2016

O'Hare Airport Predecessor

Ted Avesing posted
[AirwaysNews also has this photo.]
I've been passing up some pictures of O'Hare itself, but this picture and some of the comments struck me as worthy of a posting.

Ted's comment: "Aerial view of Douglas Factory and Airport, October 1945."

This factory was built in Orchard Place to build the C-54 Skymaster transport aircraft. There used to be an orchard here before the plant was built. If you look at your luggage tag, you will see that O'Hare is designated ORD because of the original Orchard Place name.

The city bought the land from the government in March, 1946 and annexed a strip of land along Higgins to connect it to the city in 1956. But it got in trouble with the Illinois Supreme Court in 1959 for the  "shoestring" annexation.
Daley didn’t wait for the court to take up the Higgins annexation.  He reached a deal with Rosemont to swop the Higgins strip for a 185-foot wide strip along Foster Avenue, on Rosemont’s southern border. Now the matter really was settled. (wbez)
The original strip was as narrow as 33 feet in some spots. I wonder why 33 feet is too narrow, but 185 is OK.

Marty Swartz posted two photos with the comment:
The assembly line in the Douglas Aircraft plant in Park Ridge, where wings are attached to the fuselage of big C-54 planes, is seen on July 7, 1944. The plant was located on the future site of O'Hare International Airport. After considering five locations, the airport selection board appointed by Chicago Mayor Edward Kelly picks this site, which would need to be purchased from the federal government, as the best choice for the city's postwar airport. (Douglas Aircraft Co. photo)
David M Laz also posted
Ch Town WWII The assembly line in the Douglas Aircraft plant in Park Ridge, Ill., where wings are attached to the fuselage of big C-54 cargo planes. The plant was 15 percent ahead of schedule in June 1944. — Douglas Aircraft, Chicago Tribune historical photo, July 7, 1944

Marty Swartz Map was in the Chicago Tribune on September 3, 1945.
I repeat this photo because the comment is of interest.

Marty Swartz commented on his posting
It did not take long after Municipal Airport (now Midway) opened on Chicago’s southwest side in 1926 for the city to realize that it needed more space if it was going to keep up with the growth of commercial aviation. Throughout the 1930s the city of Chicago looked for suitable locations for a second airport, but little progress was made until the beginning of World War II. After the war began, inland defense production facilities became a priority and the Army Air Corps was soon in Chicago looking for a site where the Douglas Aircraft Company could produce its C-54 Skymaster transport aircraft.

After examining numerous sites, the Army settled on Orchard Place, an area 18 miles northwest of downtown Chicago, well served by rail lines with plenty of open space for the plant and accompanying airfield. In 1942, work began on the factory and the first C-54 took flight in July 1943. In addition to the factory, four runways were constructed, each 5500 feet long and 150 feet wide. Runway placement was determined by the Civil Aeronautics Administration, which wanted a main runway parallel to Municipal Field’s northwest-southeast orientation, resulting in the original 32-14 runway.
Martin O'Connor commented on Marty's posting
Another view of the Douglas plant, looking southwest toward Bensenville.
William Ritchie repeated this photo
Picture of the Douglas Airport in 1943 on the current site of ORD (O'Hare airport)
William Piper William Ritchie i was once told by the photograper who took that picture ot was taken in 1946, a year before they started construction on OHare. The photograper's name was Roger Hammil who had a Studio in Franklin Park. Roger took many historical photos of the area. I saw this in his studio in the eary 90's and bought a copy which I have hanging in my office.William Ritchie That could be true. I did a paper while in college about airports post WW2 and got a letter from Douglas outlining production figures (643 transports built from 1943 to 1945) I was 5 years old in 1945 and my parents took me out to the airport when they had an open house. I still remember the huge C54's parked on the tarmac.

Rich Behrends commented on Marty's posting
Chicago O'Hare International Airport (IATA Code: ORD) The ORD stands for Orchard Place Airport. 803 Special Depot was part of the Douglas Aircraft plant "By May 1946, plans were formulated to shut down Freeman Field in Seymour, Indiana and transfer all USAAF, German, Italian and Japanese aircraft to storage facilities. Fighter aircraft were stored at the 803 Special Depot, Orchard Place Airport, Park Ridge, Illinois, where the newly-promoted Captain Strobell was charged with managing the inventory. Some of the captured planes are now buried under runways at O'Hare. Freeman Field is 53 miles north of me.I have been there twice and there's a museum now there and like O'Hare some of the capture planes were buried and there's a team locating and digging up whatever they find. This WWII German Fw 190A-8 capture # FE-0117 was transferred to 803 Special Depot from Freeman Field on May 31,1946. In 1949 the Air Force had transferred it to the Smithsonian Institution, joining the collection of other military aircraft that were in storage at 803 Special Depot in Park Ridge, Illinois (photo taken at 803 Special Depot)

Rich Behrends commented on Marty's posting
Same plane now at the Smithsonian Institution

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