DFW Celebrates Rededication Of Airport On 30th Anniversary
In Three Decades ---Open Prairie To Third Busiest Airport In The World
DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Texas (September 22, 2003) — Thirty years ago, DFW International Airport was built on 18,000 acres of farmland straddling long-time rivals Dallas and Tarrant Counties. Today, leaders from across North Texas celebrated the dedication of DFW on September 22, 1973, hailing three decades of cooperation and growth that has made the Airport the economic engine for the entire region. To further mark the day, the Airport also announced new community initiatives set to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first flight from DFW on January 14, 2004.
Led by former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Jim Wright, who spoke at the original dedication ceremony, a host of government and business leaders applauded the economic progress and civic cooperation that DFW has come to symbolize - looking back to a time when DFW was dubbed the "the premiere harbor on the world's air ocean."
Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief and former Dallas Mayor Wes Wise joked about their cities' heated century-old rivalry that simmered after the Airport dedication in 1973 - and the resulting model of metropolitan teamwork that now results in $11 billion in economic impact to the region every year and generates more than 200,000 jobs.
The Rededication Ceremony at the Airport's Founders' Plaza closely followed the program of 30 years ago.
“This grand Airport epitomizes the collaboration between two wonderful cities, and the support of its surrounding neighbors. It represents an opportunity for business, education and growth for the future,” said former U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright, “There has been multiple of billions of dollars invested from the public and private sectors - and all has brought us ten-fold in business and knowledge.”
DFW's CEO Jeff Fegan underscored the unparalleled transformation of 18,000 acres of prairie straddling the edges of Dallas and Tarrant Counties into the world's third-busiest airport. "The 1973 dedication ceremony represented the realization of nearly two decades of collective planning and dreaming by forward-looking community leaders and citizens," said Fegan. "Three decades and 54 million passengers per year later, we can proudly say that we've succeeded well beyond the imaginations of even those visionaries."
DFW Board Chairman Max Wells also spoke briefly, using the rededication to restate the Board's commitment to keeping the welfare of the citizens of North Texas as its top priority. "Every month, our Board makes decisions to invest millions of dollars - decisions that continue to grow both the Airport and our surrounding economy," said Wells. "The Board is extremely proud of the Airport's 30-year history of enriching our community, our passengers, our tenants, our airlines and our future."
The rededication was further marked by the announcement of two new Airport award initiatives timed to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the first flight from DFW on January 14, 2004.
The first, a community outreach program titled "Share the Dream," will commemorate the original dedication of the Airport to "the youth of the world.” In 1973, former Texas Gov. John Connally said, "DFW Airport is dedicated to the young faces of the future, here and around the world." Accordingly, DFW's "Share the Dream" campaign is designed to support, honor and educate area youth in the coming months, and will culminate in a "Share the Dream" award.
DFW officials also announced plans to give the Airport's highest honor, the J. Erik Jonsson Award, to a community leader for outstanding service to DFW Airport and North Texas. The recipients of both awards will be honored as part of the Airport's planned January celebration of the first flight.
As flags fluttered over Founders' Plaza, construction cranes continued to turn, building the Airport's $2.6 billion Capital Development Project, which includes the new International Terminal D and SkyLink automated people mover. Both projects comprise the largest construction site in Texas and are on time and on budget to open in early 2005.
FLASHBACK TO 1973
DFW's 1973 dedication grabbed both headlines and the world's attention. The four-day celebration featured the largest delegation of ambassadors ever assembled outside of Washington, D.C. or New York and the first-ever U.S. appearance of the Supersonic Transport, better known as the Concorde.
Former Gov. Connally presided over the dedication ceremonies, which included Texas political leaders Gov. Dolph Briscoe, U.S. Sen. John Tower, and then Fort Worth Congressman Jim Wright. A celebrity-filled gala – including comedian Jack Benny, Fort Worth golfer Ben Hogan, pianist Van Cliburn, and newsman Chet Huntley - was the highlight of the event. Hundreds of thousands of local residents and aviation buffs from around the globe brought their kids and cameras to see "the dawning of a new era" as it was depicted in local news stories. DFW's size was the talk of the country, portrayed in news articles as "larger than the Island of Manhattan," a distinction still admired today. And President Richard M. Nixon, who was unable to attend the event, sent this message, “When Texans put their minds to a project, the sky is the limit.”
THEN AND NOW
Thirty years of growth and change:
On Dedication Day 1973, not a single commercial flight landed at DFW. Today, an average day at DFW sees 2,000 total landings and departures. DFW opened with 66 gates. Today, the Airport operates 137 gates. DFW estimated eight million passengers would use its facilities the first year. In 2004, that forecast exceeds 54 million passengers. In 1973, DFW's population stood at 2,556,317. Today, the Metroplex is 5,618,118 strong. Thirty years ago, the Metroplex workforce stood at 1,343,200 workers. Today, the workforce has more than doubled to 2,709,500. In the fall of 1973, the average gallon of gasoline cost North Texans just 41 cents. Today, the average gallon runs $1.56.
Editor's Notes: This release, and past news releases issued by DFW International Airport, are available online at www.dfwairport.com in the "MediaSite" section.
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