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Best of Flashback Fridays: Dallas Love Field Before Southwest Airlines

Adventurer C

In this week’s “Best of” Brian Lusk’s Flashback Fridays, we take a look back at not only a brief history of Love Field before Southwest Airlines, but also at some great photos from Brian’s own postcard collection.

Although Brian’s story on Love Field begins in in the 1940s, it’s fun to note that, nearly 100 years ago—in 1917—aviators from the U.S. Army first took off from the field they called Love. The romantic in me likes to imagine the countless numbers of travelers over the decades—and all their reasons for flying in and out of “Big D”—who probably never gave a second thought to being a part of the near-century of Love Field’s colorful history.

Southwest has been operating from Love Field since June 18, 1971, and in these weekly posts, we have looked at some of our early operations at our home airport.  I thought it might be fun to take a look back at Love before Southwest, by using some postcards in my collection.  So let’s start with the terminal that was located off of Lemmon Avenue during the 1940s and 1950s.  This terminal was badly overcrowded almost as soon as it opened, and until the present terminal was built, this building was expanded as far as could be done.

The photo above appears to date from the late 1940s before the extensions were added to each side of the building.  We have a Trans-Texas DC-3 and an American DC-6.  Once operations moved to the present building in 1958, this structure fell into disrepair.  On my first trip into Love in 1959, it was still standing but was riddled with broken windows.  Today, the only remnant of this terminal is the traffic circle with the facilities signature stylized wing made from sidewalks at the end of George Coker Circle.

Judging by the cars in the parking lot, this view (below) of the current terminal dates from the late 1950s probably not long after the building opened on January 20, 1958.  Although the terminal doesn’t yet feature a parking garage, it does have the current traffic flow, with an upper and lower level.


The main lobby hasn’t changed too much over the years.  In this view, all of the ticket counters were to the left of the lobby.  The airport coffee shop occupied the area where the Southwest Ticket Counter is now—off to the extreme right of the picture.  Several high-end retail shops occupied the area straight ahead in the photo, and the famous world map can be seen at the center right of the photo.  The stairs in the center of the post card have been removed, and the photographer is standing on the mezzanine, which is now enclosed for offices. 

The next two views were taken after August 18, 1965, when the upper deck parking structure was opened.  This was also the about the same time that Runway 13Right/31Left was opened to the left.   The parking lot is busier in the bottom postcard.

And finally, we see the terminal as it was not long before the other airlines moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport (Now DFW International) on January 13, 1974.  Those carriers used the terminal for 16 years almost to the day, while Southwest has been a part of this terminal for 39 years in June.  The postcard below shows the new Braniff ticketing and baggage claim to the right, and the original facade of the building is very evident.

With the construction under way to moderinize the terminal, the current configuration of the building will soon join these views as a piece of Dallas's and Southwest's history.