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America’s largest airports were first farms, golf courses and race tracks

Excerpt from USA Today

Feb 20, 2013 12:38 pm

Skift Take

While some people feel that U.S. airports are like aging dinosaurs, it turns out that some of these creatures may have eons ago roamed the lands where airports were eventually built.

— Samantha Shankman

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Wally Gobetz  / Flickr

The historic TWA Flight Center at New York's JFK airport was built on top of the Idlewild Golf Course. Wally Gobetz / Flickr


Many of today’s airports stretch across vast tracts of acreage that don’t hold much interest for anyone but plane-spotters and aviation geeks. But before they housed commercial airports, some of these lands had colorful, non-aeronautical pasts.

Going way back to the last ice age, there’s evidence that large creatures roamed the land now occupied by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

In 1992, workers digging up earth to make way for Concourse B at Denver International Airport came across fossils of palm leaves, indicating that long before the area became a prairie, it had a subtropical climate.

What is now Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was built on the site of an auto race track called Snelling Speedway.

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