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Flashback Fridays--A Look Back at Dallas Love Field

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From the day the current Dallas Love Field terminal opened on January 20, 1958, the facility has been under constant modification.  Upper levels to concourses were added, the terminal expanded then contracted, operations shifted, and now the next renovation is underway which will consolidate all the gates into a new, state of the art concourse, along with new lobby areas.  One time of great change for the building happened after the other airlines moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth Regional (now International) Airport on January 13, 1974.  This is the first of several Flashback Fridays that will look at that period.

Today, we take a look back at some old black and white photos.  From the destination sign at one of the gates in the picture below, which shows a flight departing to Midland/Odessa (MAF), the photos must have been taken sometime after May 20, 1977, because that was the date we began service to MAF.  After all the other airlines moved to DFW, we moved our gates to the former American Airlines concourse (also known as the West Concourse).  Prior to that, we had operated out of gates next to Delta’s operation on the North Concourse.  Even though the photo below was taken at least three years after that move, it retains the look of American’s gates.  From the limited view we have outside the window, this appears to be Gate 2 because of the light pole outside.  (As our Love Field operation grew, we opened more of the gates on this concourse.)

When the other carriers left the airport, we moved our Ticket Counter from the original ticketing wing over to its current location, the area where the old Dobbs House Coffee Shop was located.  From the same roll of film, we have these views of the counter as it looked during the late 1970s.  Note that the heart motif played a dominant role in the backdrop of the counter, and check out the rest of the graphics.  (Very 70’s, dude!)  One thing that puzzles me is that the high-traffic area in front of the counter was carpeted then, but the gate area in the photo above isn’t.

The next photo shows the original pathway from the main lobby to the North Concourse.  At this date, Southwest Customers accessed their flights on the West Concourse via the connection next to the baggage claim area (the one that most of our deplaning  Customers use to access the terminal and baggage claim).  If I remember my terminal geography/history correctly, the original main lobby and concourse entrances were closed off from travelers because the main lobby housed an ice rink.  (Yes, I have found pictures of that, stay tuned.)  As we will see later, several airport offices were located on this concourse.  The railings you see down both sides of the hallway were old moving sidewalks.  When the terminal opened in 1958, the moving sidewalks were the world's first installed at an airport.

Below, we see the lower level entrance to the North Concourse.  Unlike the West Concourse which has all the public areas on the upper level, Delta Customers used escalators from the North Concourse’s lower level to access the upper level gates.  This hallway retains its original look (and the smell that takes me back to my childhood) even today.  In this view, we see that Piper Aircraft has a sales office on the concourse, and the walls of the office extend out into the concourse.  The area immediately to the left of the picture is a small ground-level gate, and a similar gate is located out of the view to the right.  Update:  Longtime SWA Employee Mark Monse tells us that the Piper office later became the airport police station.  I think he is right, and that would mean this is a view from the West Concourse looking toward the East Concourse.  The North Concourse entrance is to the left.

This final photo below is still a bit of a mystery to me.  I do know that it is a view along the lower level of the North Concourse because the tile pillar at the very left of the frame was only found on the lower floor of concourses.  The doors appear to be leaning against the concourse wall.  To be honest, the track lighting is confusing me, though because the concourse hallway had no need for such lights.  I have two guesses about the subject of the photo:  The first is that this might be a remodeling of the old Piper office seen above and we are looking at the area behind the “false wall” that was erected out into the concourse.  The second is that this is a remodeling of former Delta operations offices to house our Dallas Marketing offices.  Can anyone help with details on this?

29 Comments
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That's some awesome history. I remember many of those areas as a former AA employee. Thanks for the memories. Kind regards, Dave Jackson Naples, FL
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I remember how we always dressed up in our best before each flight and those lovely orange shorts worn by the "always cheerful" flight attendants! Still enjoy SWA more than any other, and, won't fly any other unless SWA does not go there. And when I do I'm not at all happy!!
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OMG GREAT MEMORIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! emp.#2129
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heh. What's funny is that it hasn't changed THAT much over the years. You really can tell where all those were taken (except that last one). You should add Then & Now pictures to Flashback Friday to compare. //bring back the ice rink... just sayin'
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I worked in that Piper office in the late 70's. We didn't have track lighting in there. Those lights are all aimed in the same direction like they were shining on counters or something. Seeing that Piper sign and the hall way brought back lots of memories. Thanks for the post. Please let me know if you figure out what the picture is. Thanks
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Great stuff. I have always been fascinated with the history of Love Field and how Southwest's history there began. Thanks for sharing these wonderfully nostalgic pictures! Keep them coming!
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loved the retro photos! Southwest IS the Best Airlines!! We in Nashville are so greatful that you moved here when American left. It was the best thing that ever happened to Nashville air travel. I have a Southwest Visa and use it for everything! I get so many free tickets. The Rewards program is great. We would not get to travel as much if it was not for the Rewards program. I know this might sound like a commercial and it should be. Your the BEST and YES, I Tell EVERYONE!!! Thank you Southwest and please never leave Nashville!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Thanks for sharing the old pics. Being an old time aviation buff, my first visit to Love Field was sometime in the mid 70's when I caught a bus there out to DFW. I dropped off a car there several years back, but have never actually taken off or landed there. The first knowledge of its existence came of course when President Kennedy arrived there on that fateful Friday, November 22, 1963.
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The old ticket counter design looks very cool.
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Cool! Love history on Southwest! Keep it coming!!
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Employee
Brian, yes, in the mid-to-late 70's the main lobby and the lobby area to the immediate East was, indeed, an entertainment venue called Llove. It had an ice rink, a roller-rink, arcade area, mini-movie theatre (located where our ticket counter area is now), and a fast-food-type restaurant on the upper level. Personal connection--I had my Senior All-Night Party there in May of 1976. Little did I know then that I and a surprising number of the Irving High School Class of 76 would wind up working here at SWA!
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I remember when Love was turned into an amusement center with movies, ice skating, roller skating, movies and the like. I went to may birthday parties then, Anyone remember the years that this was?
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I remember the ice arena. I took my son & some of his friends there for a New Year's Eve party.
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The Ticket Counters look very cool
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What a nice little peek into the history of Southwest.
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Thanks for the comments everyone, and please keep them coming. Like Bill Love Field played a big part of my social life. I am a bit older than him, but when I was in college we would go to Love Field and just walk around the terminal or visit the observation deck on a weekend night. That's when all the airlines still flew there and it was fun to listen to all the arrival and departure announcements. Sherry I remember getting dressed for flights. My dad was the last Station Manager for Continental at Love and when we nonreved you had to dress up. As I said, I have found photos of what appears to be a Southwest gathering at the LLove ice rink, that Bill mentions above. That will be in a future Flashback Fridays. And if anyone can provide a clue about the construction scene please share.
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Love Southwest! The best !!
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Brian, Weekend nights in college and you went out to watch the planes!!??? You and Brett Snyder over at Cranky Flyer have to be the two biggest plane geeks in the history of the world!! When I was a little guy, my mom would take me out to Billy Mitchell Field to watch the planes. (No real Milwaukeean calls it Mitchell International.) But in college I had 2 things on my mind.... beer and girls. Just teasing my good man. See you guys Friday for my next SWA flight. The ONLY airline of choice.
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JJG guilty as charged, but sometimes, I would visit Love Field with girls. Before that in high school, since my dad worked there, I would go to work with him in the summer and spend all day on the observation deck watching Delta Convairs, DC-6s and DC-7s, DC-8s and Convair 880s, TTA and Frontier DC-3s and turbo prop Convairs, among other things--even the Braniff/PanAm London interchange flight with a Pan Am 707.
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Is it too late to add an old school arcade & ice rink to the DAL expansion plans? I got here a few years to late to enjoy the bizarre, yet most excellent amenities of Love Field. If not already in the works, you really ought to go big & write a book, Brian. I LUV your insight into all things aviation... especially the stuff about our Employer. Keep up the great work, Media Master.
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How about the name of the agent working the ticket counter and is she still working for us. Thanks
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Gosh, do I remember Love Field!! Yes, we dressed up! I remember searching for the right "bone" shade of gloves to match a favored hat. A special boy-friend who drove all night just to sit with me between flights. My baby's first flight before age one and the silver set of wings he was presented. (He's 51 now.) Joining my best friend for a vacation in Memphis after our high school graduation in San Antonio. Do you have any pictures of the floor featuring the seal (I think) of Texas? Thanks for posting this article and the special pics.
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Cool pics! My dad used to bring me and my brother to Love field. He would park over on Denton drive and we would watch all the airliners take off and land. Love Field really does have a unique and rich history. Thanks Brian for sharing it with us, and I agree, a book should be in the works! I would buy a copy.
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Bill, I'm wondering if that last picture you're curious about might be the old Piper office in the process of being converted into the offices for the Airport Police? I recall their having been there for quite awhile after the Piper office was gone.
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I really like the idea of the "then and now" pictures. I'd like to suggest that a great "then and now" would be the St. Louis East Terminal. I remember flying out of there when is was still basically a cargo terminal. There were only about 20 seats at each gate, if you wanted to sit, it was usually on the floor. The "new" East Terminal is awesome. I love Southwest!
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I actually remember roller-skating at Love Field in 1975. Sometimes I think it's all a dream that I fabricated. But after seeing some of the posts about the amusements at Love Field - I feel validated. I know it was 1975 because I went with my friends from my first job at Orange Julius and the year was 1975. Wow.
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Crystal, speaking of memories, I miss Orange Julius! Brian
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First let me say I'm sorry for getting in on this discussion so late. My father used to fly a lot in the late 50's and we would pick him up at the old terminal, with the map on the floor. About the same time, the movie The High and The Mighty came out. the closing scene of the movie reminds me of the old terminal where you would walk out and along the long coverd walkway to the gate. Oh, to be a kid again.
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Its fun to look back at the old days, But its even more fun to see the future!