The following images are from the LIFE photo archives and show typical “day in the life” scenes from Atlanta Municipal Airport taken by Ralph Morse during the Summer of 1949. You can almost hear the engines, smell the in flight meals, and feel the tedium of waiting for that next flight.
The first aerial photo below is a great view of Atlanta’s “Temporary” Terminal taken in 1949 to give you an idea of the layout. This terminal served Atlanta from 1948 until 1961 and was approximately where the Air Tran hangar now stands, on the NW corner of the airport. The main ticketing lobby was fashioned out of a war surplus quonset hut hangar and the “concourses” were little more than hallways built out of cinder blocks and lumber. The airport’s observation deck can be seen to the right of the main building.
This view faces northeast towards Hapeville and the road running diagonally across the top left is Virginia Avenue. The two large hangars at the top right of the photo are still standing and are part of the Delta Museum. In the foreground is the west wing which is where the Delta and Capital Airlines gates were located. On the far side of the terminal is the east wing which housed Eastern’s gates.
This aerial shot (facing north) of Atlanta’s “Temporary” terminal shows nearly a dozen Eastern aircraft: 2 Douglas DC-4s, 3 Lockheed Constellations and 6 DC-3s. It’s possible that the only structure in this photo that is still standing is the round tank at the top center.
Three Delta DC-6s and a Capital Airlines DC-4 are pictured in the foreground at the west wing gates.
This view, facing west toward College Park, shows the entire terminal. Delta and Capital aircraft are seen at the top and nearly a dozen Eastern aircraft can be seen parked at the east wing in the foreground.
The spacious main ticketing lobby of Atlanta Airport in 1949 with the ticket counters on the left and gift shop and Dobb’s House restaurant to the right. The ticket counter was the longest in the world when it opened a year earlier. Large photos of downtown Atlanta, Stone Mountain, Bobby Jones Golf Course, the Georgia mountains, and the Okefenokee Swamp adorned the wall.
Eastern Air Lines ticket counter. Before the days of computers: Eastern Air Lines arrivals and departures handwritten in chalk.
This is what an airline reservations center looked like in 1949.
Waiting in line at the Eastern ticket counter.
Passengers waiting in the main lobby. Atlanta is known for its hot, humid summer weather and this terminal was not air conditioned in 1949. A ceiling fan can be seen spinning above the gift shop.
Wouldn’t you love to have a conversation with this woman?
Don’t forget the flight insurance!
This is the view (facing north) from a taxiing Eastern Air Lines DC-3. The large hangar is still standing and is now part of the Delta Flight Museum. The small metal hangars next to the Delta hangar are now at Lenora Airport in Gwinnett County, GA. The area in the foreground is now a parking lot.
This DC-3, registered N28382 (c/n 4090) flew with Eastern from 1941-1952. It later flew with North Central as N5649. Other registrations include N315UT , N8BC , and N202B. ATDB lists its status as “ultimate fate obscure”.
An Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-3 taxis out to the runway. The buildings in the background were located on Virginia Avenue.
Eastern Air Lines Constellation N108A heading toward the taxiway. I have to say the Constellation was probably the most beautiful airliner ever produced, its graceful curves a far cry from today’s ‘aluminum tubes’. This particular aircraft was delivered to Eastern as a L-649 on July 17, 1947. It was converted to a L-749A in 1950. Eastern operated it until 1961, when it was purchased by California Airmotive Corporation. After being stored at Lancaster, California for many years, it was broken up for scrap in 1972.
As in the previous photo, this view faces north and the houses and billboards in the background were located on Virginia Ave.
An Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Constellation follows a Douglas DC-3 to the active runway. You can see another DC-3 and a C-46 Commando parked in the distance. Almost all of the area shown here is now occupied by Delta’s World Headquarters.
Douglas DC-4 interior.
A great shot of the cockpit of an Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Constellation showing the flight engineer and co-pilot.
Preparing for inflight meal service aboard an Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Constellation. Look at all of those fans running at full blast!
I have to say, it looks pretty darn good!
Ah, the purr of those engines… zzzzzz.
25 AMAZING PHOTOS OF ATLANTA AIRPORT IN 1956
These images are from the LIFE photo archives and show typical “day in the life” scenes from Atlanta Municipal Airport taken by Robert W. Kelley in June 1956. Since 1948, Atlanta had been using a “temporary” terminal constructed from an old war-surplus quonset hut and continued to do so until 1961 when a modern “jet age” facility opened. These photos capture the heyday of the last great piston airliners, three years before the introduction of jets would make them obsolete.
We begin with a fantastic view (above) of the crowded ramp with a trio of Eastern Air Lines Martin 404s in the foreground.
Below: An Eastern Air Lines Lockheed Constellation starts its engines with a characteristic cloud of smoke. This view faces west towards College Park. Interstate 85 is now in the area of the tree line in the background of this photo.
A Capital Airlines turboprop Vickers Viscount and Douglas DC-4 prepare to depart. Capital was merged into United Airlines in 1961.
Passengers boarding a Delta Airlines Douglas DC-7.
The main ticketing lobby. This was the world’s longest ticket counter when it opened in 1948.
Crowded conditions in the Temporary Terminal, probably during the hectic “noon push” when multiple flights departed within minutes of each other.
A more relaxed atmosphere at the ticket counter later in the day.
A boy plays with a toy plane while his family checks in at the counter. In the background you can see two doors with a sign that says “WEST GATE”. Those doors led to the gates on the western side of the terminal which were primarily used by Delta. The Dobbs House Restaurant, with its columned entrance, can be seen just to the right of the doors and the airport gift shop can be seen at the far right.
Women preparing hundreds of in-flight meals.
People enjoying the view from the observation deck on a hazy summer day.
The ground crew scurries as all four engines come to life on an Eastern Air Lines Constellation. What a spectacular photograph!
Unloading luggage from a Delta Airlines Douglas DC-7.
A line of Delta Convair 340/440s on the hazy ramp at Atlanta. In the background you can see DC-3s of Capital Airlines and Southern Airways. You’ll notice the logo on the baggage cart says Delta-C&S. Delta merged with Chicago and Southern Airlines in 1953, and the combined companies were known as Delta-C&S until 1955. Obviously the logo remained on some equipment for some time after that.
By the way, you can find more info on Southern Airways at southernairways.org
The Atlanta Municipal Airport fire department.
Fire station dog?
A crowd of Capital and Southern Airways DC-3s seems to watch as the ground crew refuels a Delta DC-7.
Arriving passengers deplaning a Delta Airlines DC-7.
A shiny new Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-7 heads for the taxiway. The brick building in the background stood until the mid-1980s and can be seen at the beginning of this video I shot in 1984.
Eastern Air Lines N110A, a Lockheed L-749A Constellation, is followed by a DC-7 out to the active runway. This view faces west with the town of College Park in the distance.
Eastern Air Lines Douglas DC-7 and Lockheed Constellation taxiing out to the runway.
Passengers walk out to board Delta Airlines Convair 440 N4809C as the sun begins to set.
The utilitarian boarding gates at Atlanta’s Temporary Terminal were certainly not designed with the claustrophobic in mind!
Another view of the boarding area.
Night view of Gate 7 from the ramp.
A girl and her doll wait to depart Atlanta aboard an Eastern Air Lines evening flight. Those were the days of wide seats and plenty of legroom!