From Point A to Point B at Mines Field, 1929

by Paul R. Spitzzeri

As early aviation in greater Los Angeles developed, as so often happens, the industry was filled with small airplane manufacturing firms; airline companies offering mail, passenger and freight service; and many local airports for these firms to use.

While today Los Angeles International Airport is not just the hub of local air traffic, but of a broad region around it, its predecessor was just one of a number of fields looking to get in on the action as aviation took off (!).

Mines Field was named for William Mines, a realtor who handled the land transaction for the City of Los Angeles to develop its first airport.  The 640-acre facility was purchased in late September 1927 and the field opened a little over a year later, in October 1928.  An official dedication did not take place until June 1930, as the Great Depression was worsening.

Mines Field terminal blueprint
This detail of a large 1929 blueprint of Mines Field, now Los Angeles International Airport, shows parking lots, the terminal, landing and take-off runways and other elements.  From the Homestead Museum collection.

Notably, Mines Field was the site, before the opening of the airport, of the National Air Races, held in September 1928–an event that will be covered as part of the “From Point A to Point B series” at a later date.

It took years, however, for the airport to establish its top rank among regional fields and, as air travel took on longer-distance trips, the field was renamed Los Angeles International Airport in 1949.

Today’s featured artifact is a blueprint for Mines Field, dated 28 January 1929.  Shown in two images here, the plan, from contractor The Austin Company of California, contains locations of runways, structures such as terminals, parking areas, industrial sites, and other elements.

Mines Field blueprint detail
Here’s another section of the blueprint, indicating more runways, a taxi and service road, industrial building sites and airport structures.

Bounding the airport were the “Inglewood-Redondo Boulevard,” now Aviation Boulevard, on the east; 114th Street, today’s Imperial Highway, to the south; Arizona Drive, modern Sepulveda Boulevard, on the west; and Pine Street, which is probably now Century Boulevard, to the north.

Not surprisingly, the terminal and associated buildings were designed and built in the ubiquitous Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style, the same employed at La Casa Nueva here at the Homestead, which was completed the year the City of Los Angeles purchased the Mines Field property.

Naturally, in later years, architecture at LAX followed modern trends, including the famed 1961 “Theme Building,” designed by William Pereira and which strikingly reflected the emerging Space Age.  Today’s massive accumulation of terminals, including the recent Tom Bradley International Terminal, and all of the other elements of the airport are reminders of just how far aviation travel has come in the region.

Aviation meet LA 1920s
This unidentified photograph is almost certainly of Mines Field and may be from the National Air Races of September 1928.  From the Homestead Museum collection.

So, if you’re traveling to Point B, wherever that may be (!) and Point A is for airport, specifically LAX, take a moment to reflect how much has changed in the nearly 90 years since Mines Field opened.


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