History

BWI Marshall Airport: Your Gateway to the Baltimore-Washington Region. Photo courtesy of Visit Annapolis.

Although there has been significantly less travel this year, we want to send a special belated birthday greeting to our go-to airport, Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall Airport, or as we all know it best, BWI. This year, BWI Marshall celebrates its 70th birthday.

BWI

There’s a comfort with your local airport. Whether it’s a final send off to a new destination or a welcome home after a long trip, BWI Marshall has been serving travelers since 1950. BWI gives the Baltimore-Annapolis area familiar contentment with easy parking, favorite local eateries as well as a high level of traveler satisfaction. Through several expansions and renovations, today, the airport has generously evolved and proudly adorns the name of a local legend.

An old photo of Friendship International Airport taken from the air. Photo courtesy of Killduffs.

Friendship International Airport

Our beloved international airport hasn’t always answered to Baltimore Washington Thurgood Marshall. In 1950, President Harry S. Truman dedicated Friendship International Airport, which was the most advanced airport at the time. Before Dulles International Airport was built in 1962 to help service the Washington, DC area, Baltimore’s Friendship International played a large part in enhancing accessibility to the nation’s capital.

Reagan National Airport (formally known as National Airport) first opened in the 1940s, and for a long time, could only accommodate smaller jets. Friendship International became the local hub for larger aircraft, bringing more tourism to the Baltimore-Washington area and improving the local economy. The airport code changed from BAL to BWI when the time came for Baltimore to distinguish itself as a standalone asset for aviation travel in Maryland.

BWI Marshall Airport as it stands today. Updates are constantly being made to improve logistics and create a seamless travel experience. Photo courtesy of Visit Annapolis.

Changing Times

Throughout the years the airport has undergone several changes. Moreover, it continues to direct it’s focus on innovation and the importance of supporting the immediate area. Updates are constantly being made to improve logistics and create a seamless travel experience. The addition of first-class security measures, an Amtrak Rail Station, and cost-effective long-term parking are just a few things that grant BWI worthy of a birthday celebration. More importantly, safety measures due to the coronavirus pandemic were quickly enacted and will continue to be a top priority. Most recently, BWI Marshall Airport & Airport Design Consultants, Inc. were given the 2020 John L. Martin Partnered Project of the Year Award for work to reconstruct Taxiway B at at the airport.

BWI Marshall Airport offers history lessons as well as a rotating art exhibition gallery. The Art gallery does not require a ticket for entry, but rather is open to the public. Photo courtesy of BWI Airport.

Thurgood Marshall

In 2005, the name was officially changed to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport to recognize the achievements and legacy of the Baltimore-native, late Supreme Court Justice. His life and accomplishments are displayed on the upper level of the terminal to be admired by all who pass through. While BWI celebrated its 70th birthday this summer, Thurgood Marshall would have been 112 on October 2nd. His contributions to our nation started as a Baltimorean. Marshall was known for his groundbreaking case of Brown vs. the Board of Education. The young NAACP lawyer fought for Civil Rights year after year in white court rooms. The work was dangerous and often led to threats of life and limb wherever he would go.

Thurgood Marshall, photo taken during his groundbreaking case, Brown vs. The Board of Education. Image courtesy of The Atlantic.

Born and raised in Baltimore, Justice Marshall proudly called the city home and began his long practice of the law in Charm City. Eventually, he went on to become the Supreme Court’s first African American justice. Last but not least, it is only fitting that his name is forever memorialized with an airport that isn’t stifled by change, but rather continues to set an example for modernization.

Supreme Court Justice, The Hon. Thurgood Marshall. Image courtesy of BWI Marshall Airport.

After 70 years, BWI sustains service for the expansive DC, Maryland, and Virginia areas. Next time you are traveling or passing through, take time to visit the airport’s art and historical exhibits for yourself. The Art Exhibits are open to the public and feature a rotating and robust art experience. You will be amazed at the airport’s rich and diverse cultural history. Happy Birthday, BWI Marshall- and cheers to many more!

Kristin Dyak

Kristin Dyak is the digital marketing director at a local ad agency where she specializes in social media marketing. She became an Annapolitan in 2015 when moving back east after a stint on the west coast. Growing up in Northern Virginia, Annapolis and the Eastern Shore were home to countless childhood, summer memories. Kristin is excited to be part of a vibrant neighborhood that prioritizes local artists, music and events that encourage a progressive community in this historic city.