Detroit Metro Airport is the biggest airport in Michigan, but it wasn't until the late 1950's that DTW started to become such a major travel hub.

I had no idea about the actual history of Metro airport until I stumbled on this vintage postcard plan for the airport expansion in the late '50s. The airport opened up in the '20s for passenger travel but was used by the National Guard and Air Force during war times from 1931 to 1945.

After the war operations ended at Metro, it was time to get back to the business of flying passengers. The problem was that the airport needed a ton of upgrades and expansions to become the massive travel hub it is today. Much of that expansion happened in the late '40s and '50s, and that's where this postcard comes from.

Looking at the airport then, you can see the bones of what would become the massive airport it is now. I spent a long time looking at the captions and thinking about how different things are now.

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Here are a few of the details that really stood out to me in the illustration.

  • The Avis Penthouse Hotel looks so cool. The illustration points out that there were only 37 rooms, but the rooms were something else. The glass structures would have given guests a one-of-a-kind view of planes landing and taking off.
  • The lack of fencing is crazy to me. The caption on number 7 pointing out that you could drive your Buick on the ramp if you wanted to is hilarious.
  • The South Terminal building only being half-built is another really cool point. It shows just how the airport expanded in the years to come.

If you are as interested in the old postcard art shown above, you should check out some of the art for sale at They have a ton of cool pieces that are Detroit-specific, and a lot of really cool aviation art available.

The airport would go through a ton of other expansions and changes over the years, including a major expansion in 2002. That's when the McNamara Terminal was built, you can see a few pictures of the new terminal below.

Getty Images
Getty Images
Getty Images


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