For just over four decades, the former main terminal of Greater Pittsburgh International Airport was the city's gateway to the world. Located nearly 20 miles west of Downtown Pittsburgh, the Joseph Hoover designed terminal would see millions of travelers pass through its doors. Known best for the terrazzo compass in the main lobby, the terminal had many other distinguishing features. The well landscaped entrance that led up to the curved stepped design of the terminal. Each level of the terminal would extend out further than the other allowing for numerous observation decks. The most popular observation deck, the "Horizon Room", was located on the fourth floor.
From when it opened in the Summer of 1952 until its closing on September 30, 1992, the terminal would grow from a small regional airport to the main hub for USAir. The terminal would see numerous expansions and renovations over its 40 years of service. Expansions in 1959, 1972, and 1980 increased the capacity at the terminal; but by the 1980s, the main terminal was overcrowded, outdated, and becoming obsolete. With funding secured, the Allegheny County Airport Authority would begin construction on the new Landside Terminal in 1987. The new terminal would be located on the opposite end of airport property in Findlay Township. The new modern terminal would open October 1, 1992.
The old terminal would sit empty - with the exception of some offices - for the next five years. Demolition of the old terminal began in 1997 - only to be halted for asbestos removal. During that time period, numerous proposals and ideas would be floated to develop the old terminal and the land around it. Proposals from building new sports stadiums, preserving it for a transportation museum, an indoor NASCAR track, along with other ideas. After the asbestos abatement was completed, the demolition of the old terminal would resume in 1999. Eventually, the old terminal would be demolished and redeveloped as a business park.
The old terminal was located along what is now Business Interstate 376 and University Blvd (Then the Airport Parkway and Beers School Road) in Moon Township. As a student at Robert Morris College in the late 1990s, I would drive past the empty old terminal very often. In addition to the old terminal, the former rental car lots, motels, and other businesses that supported the old airport were either gone or on their last days - a sign of not only the main terminal's relocation but also the changing needs of business travelers to more modern standards. In the Fall of 1998, a friend and I explored the old terminal. Of course, I only had a disposable camera then - and a number of shots I took never came out. It was the only time in the nearly four years at RMC that I took time to explore the old gem. The photos within this feature are all of the exterior grounds of the old terminal.
I never flew in or out of the old terminal. I vaguely recall picking up my Grandparents at the old airport in the 1980s and remembering it was a big deal to go out there. Though the airport was long abandoned when I explored it on a gloomy fall day in 1998 there were still a lot of old pieces of the airport still in place. It is one of those things where you wish you had today's technology (digital or cell phone cameras) back then. If you have any photos or history you'd like to share about the old airport terminal, leave a comment or send us an e-mail. I'd like to expand this feature as time goes on.
|The former Greater Pittsburgh Airport Terminal - October 1998|
|The old entrance way to the main pick-up and drop-off at the old terminal. (October 1998)|
|This gives you an example of the stepped levels of the old terminal. (October 1998)|
|A view at one of the abandoned parking lots at the old airport through one of the many chain-link fencing that was in place (October 1998)|
|Access to the old terminal was pretty easy as many of the old parking lots were not closed off. The entrance from the Airport Parkway was still open. I don't think you would have seen that lax of security at the old terminal today. (October 1998)|