The Flying Machine in the Garden: Parks and Airports, 1918–1938

From Technology and Culture
  • Janet R. Daly Bednarek


Late in the evening of the last day of March 2003, Mayor Richard Daley ordered bulldozers onto the runways at Meigs Field, Chicago’s lakefront general aviation airport. By early morning the heavy equipment had carved large X’s into the runways, dramatically marking them as closed to air traffic. Though Daley may have hoped this would be the last act in a long conflict with airport supporters, in a last-ditch effort to save the field, a group called Friends of Meigs hastily developed a plan for the dual use of the site as an airport and park. In their proposed scenario, Mayor Daley could have his long-sought lakefront park, and pilots could continue to use the airport, conveniently located near Chicago’s downtown. But the Park District of Chicago rejected the proposal in July 2003, seemingly sealing the fate of Meigs Field.


Urban Park American City City Planning Park Department Airline Passenger 
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  1. 1.
    See Leo Marx, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America (Oxford, 1964). On the influence of this work, see Jeffrey L. Meikle, “Leo Marx’s The Machine in the Garden,” Technology and Culture 44 (2003): 147–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cyril Stanley Smith, “Art, Technology, and Science: Notes on Their Historical Interaction,” Technology and Culture 11 (1970): 493–549.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 14.
    For examples of discussions concerning recreational/amusement activities at airports, see Stratton Coyner, “The Job of the Airport Manager,” American City 42 (March 1930): 126–28Google Scholar
  4. Major C. C. Mosely, “Hitch Your Airport to the Stars,” Aviation 34 (November 1935): 16–18Google Scholar
  5. William D. Strohmeier, “More Fun at the Airport,” Aviation 39 (November 1940): 38–39.Google Scholar
  6. 17.
    Gilmore D. Clarke, “The Airport Is Specialized Commercial Space,” City Planning 6 (April 1930): 123–24Google Scholar
  7. John Nolen, “Under What Jurisdiction Public Airports Should Be Placed?” City Planning 6 (April 1930): 125–27Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    Clarence M. Young, “Aeronautics and the Municipality,” American City 43 (September 1930): 119.Google Scholar

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© Organization of American Historians 2007

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  • Janet R. Daly Bednarek

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